In such a fast-paced world where information is consumed at a rate akin to contestants participating in an eating competition, heritage and history are often neglected or overlooked. One criticism leveled at Chelsea Football Club, since Roman Abramovich’s takeover, is that the club was ‘founded in 2003.’ We at SW6Daily, knowing that it was actually founded in 1905, would like you to join us as we take a look at a piece of Chelsea royalty. Step forward the King, Peter Leslie Osgood.
‘Ossie’ as he was affectionately known to Chelsea fans was born in 1947 in south-east England. Going on to make 380 appearances for Chelsea scoring 150 goals, Ossie would win the hearts of Chelsea fans as much for his on-field brilliance as he would his off-field rapport with the fans.
In an era known more for the Sunday paper and the Swinging 60s than Snapchat, Ossie’s affection with the fans stemmed as much from his humility as it did from humble beginnings. Working as a bricklayer and playing part-time for his local side Windsor, Osgood’s career only took off when his uncle alerted Chelsea to his talents.
A lanky, skillful forward who could glide past opponents from his customary number nine position, the King immediately played his way into fans’ hearts with the effortlessness he displayed. More than that, though, Osgood possessed an undeniable tenacity and physical resoluteness about him that married perfectly with his immense ability. Off the back of 30 goals in 20 games for the Chelsea youth side, Osgood would score on his debut for the first team in 1964 and again on his return in 1979.
As many football fans will attest, good players are remembered for the longevity of their careers, great ones for their achievements and the trophies they win. But the truly exceptional players, the legends that burrow their way into your heart are remembered for that little bit extra, a unique persona you have never seen before.
Peter Osgood had that persona. With his unique blend of toughness, grace and skill, his persona can be defined by two key moments in his career, two winners he scored for Chelsea.
Although he missed Chelsea’s first FA Cup final at Wembley in 1967, it was in the 1970 final where Ossie would leave his mark. In a match shown to some 28 million people, a record surpassed at the time only by the 1966 World Cup, replayed final against the exceedingly tough Leeds United, Osgood would net a spectacular diving header with characteristic technique to equalize in the second leg and set Chelsea on a path to win its first ever FA Cup in the iconic kit paid homage to in season 19/20.
Displaying trademark resoluteness in a first leg on a Wembley pitch that had been torn up and was, according to reports at the time, almost unplayable, Ossie was undeterred. Scoring in the first leg of the final and the second meant that Osgood had managed to score in every round on the way to that title, a feat not matched since.
In the second of his iconic moments, Osgood would register two goals in the two-legged defeat of Real Madrid in the 1971 European Cup Winners’ Cup (now Europa League) final. The second of those would prove to be the decider in a 2-1 win, securing Chelsea’s first ever European trophy.
As much as Ossie was renowned for his on-field antics, so he was for his off-field antics as Hollywood stars of the time Raquel Welch, the modern equivalent of an Angelina Jolie or a Jennifer Lawrence, was famously photographed wearing Ossie’s number 9. His star-studded persona on the pitch translated off the pitch as he was the key football icon in the thick of the theatrical buzz the film industry generated in the Swinging 60s on Fulham Road.
Often taking the time to applaud fans after the game and with an approachability that saw him embedded easily within the club, Osgood would retire at Chelsea after brief spells at other clubs.
He didn’t score the most goals for Chelsea nor did he win the most trophies, but he left fans with an unquantifiable joy unmatched by many to have worn the famous blue. Upon his passing in 2006, his ashes were laid to rest under the penalty spot at the Shed End, and he remains the only player to have a statue erected in his honour outside Stamford Bridge.
In the modern age where players so readily come and go, where fans debate a player’s xG and quantity of Instagram followers they have, Peter Osgood’s statue stands as a reminder of football in simpler terms, where the essence of football was in the joy you felt, the connection you made and the legacy you left for the club whose fans long to adore you.
Phil Dawkes, BBC Sport:
Brian Glanvill, The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2006/mar/02/guardianobituaries.football
Getty Images, Peter Osgood FA Cup Final Header:
By Dan Hill
Edited by Jai Mcintosh