Roman Abramovich’s first ever Chelsea signing reveals his regret

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Russia tycoon Roman Abramovich took over ownership of Chelsea in 2003, and the Russian billionaire helped transform the fortunes of Chelsea and turned the club into one of the most feared sides in Europe.

Abramovich spent £121.3 million (£138m/$149m) during his first transfer window, with the likes of Claude Makelele, Damien Duff, Joe Cole and Hernan Crespo joining club, but the first player he ever signed for Chelsea was Jurgen Macho, a free transfer signing from Sunderland.

Unfortunately for Macho, he tore his cruciate ligament in his first week at Cobham and never made it big at the club he was keen to impress.

Photo: Getty Images

“Sunderland let me go and Chelsea came in and it was an honour that such a big club came in to sign me,” Macho tells Goal. “Everything went so fast because I knew I had to try to take this big opportunity.

“I knew I had to do something big to make it at Chelsea. I had a pre-season before the actual pre-season which started in my holidays. I thought I have to work hard to be 100 per cent right to get a shot to play. I knew the fight for places against Carlo Cudicini was big.

“At the start, I was really happy there. I had so much power and energy. After a week, I tore my anterior cruciate ligament and it was heartbreaking. It was an awful feeling. I had invested so much and I couldn’t show what I could do. I knew after that it would be very tough to get back in.”

Petr Cech would sign for Chelsea the following year, and Macho never made an appearance for the Blues, but he was happy with the way the club treated him.

He told Goal in an interview: “They kept signing unbelievable players at that time and you would feel each one changing the dressing room. You would see Roman Abramovich around at all the games and he gave a lot to the club. I was trying to get back after such a long period out.

“It was a hard time for me. It was a great disappointment but that’s part of football. I never would complain about this because injuries are part of the game. You can be lucky to avoid them but it happens. Everyone at Chelsea treated me with so much respect even if they were ready to let me go.

“That includes all the players, coaches and medical staff. I felt like part of the club even if I never played there. I feel like I earned to be signed by Chelsea and I was proud to be part of it. I was also honest that there were superstars.

“Petr Cech signed in pre-season when Jose Mourinho came in. We worked a few times together and he was a fantastic sportsman, helpful and a good guy.

“He became an incredible goalkeeper and proved it in his career; even then, you could see how much he had to offer. I was unlucky; it made it difficult for me and another reason that I had to move on.”

Macho is currently working as the goalkeeper coach of Austrian side Rapid Wien.

About the Author

Chelsea is more than just a football club to me; it's a passion I share, and my affinity with the Chelsea badge is one that will last forever. As far as watching my favourite team is concerned, I'd rather miss a meal than miss a Chelsea game.