By Sammie Frimpong
With his transfer to AC Milan this week, Ghana midfielder Michael Essien called time on eight highly successful years spent with English outfit Chelsea, during which he won two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two other domestic trophies, and also the Uefa Champions League prize.
MIXED-BAG AT THE BRIDGE | Essien has seen it all in the blue shirt
Goal chronicles his landmark moments at the club, among them the pleasant and the not-so-memorable.
|Highs and Lows of Essien at Chelsea|
|14 August 2005||
Chelsea approved a then African record fee of £24.4 million that concluded one of modern football's most drawn-out transfer sagas, after Olympique Lyonnais president Jean-Michel Aulas responded to Jose Mourinho's relentless poaching with a good old game of hardball. Five days later, Essien's move was sealed.
|21 August 2005||
Essien made his bow for his new club as a substitute, joining the action in the second half as Chelsea beat Arsenal in the EPL for the first time in nearly a decade, courtesy a fortuitous Didier Drogba finish. Three weeks after his first appearance, Essien, on his full debut, grabbed an assist for Chelsea against West Brom.
15 December 2005
Essien was handed a two-game ban for a controversial tackle on Dietmar Hamann when Chelsea played Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League. The tackle itself - which got Fifa president Sepp Blatter and was described by Hamann himself as the 'worst' he had suffered in his career - escaped the matchday officials' attention but Uefa issued the sentence after analyzing the incident post-game. Essien later issued a public apology which Hamann accepted.
|11 March 2006||
Essien scored his first goal for Chelsea against city rivals Tottenham Hotspur, connecting with a low Shaun Wright-Phillips cross. The following month saw him grab his second and last goal for his maiden season in England when Chelsea played Everton. Not a bad return for a midfield enforcer, especially as he ended the season with his first piece of silverware for the club - the Premier League crown.
|12 September 2006||
Essien scored his first Champions League goal for Chelsea, netting in a 2-0 triumph over Germany's Werder Bremen before following it up with a late winner away to Valencia to send Mourinho's side through to the competition's semi-finals on a 3-2 aggregate.
12 October 2006
Essien's fine performances for the Londoners saw him nominated for the 2006 Fifa World Player of the Year award (where he eventually placed 22nd). A week later, his efforts were further rewarded with another nomination; this time, for the 2006 Ballon d'Or. He was ultimately named winner of the BBC's African Footballer of the Year gong for 2006.
|10 December 2006||
Essien powered in arguably the greatest goal of his stellar stint at Chelsea, a last-gasp curling stunner from range that earned Chelsea a point against Arsenal and ensured the club's longstanding unbeaten record at home under Mourinho remained intact. Chelsea fans later voted it the club's Goal of the Season. A brilliant strike it indeed was.
|15 May 2007||On the same night his goal described above was given recognition at the club's end-of-season awards event, Essien became the first African to be named Chelsea Player of the Year - quite an honour.|
15 June 2007
|Concerns were raised over Essien's transfer, along with those of Petr Cech and Didier Drogba, his Chelsea team-mates (and also those of a dozen or so other Premier League players at the time), in the famous Stevens' report which sought to investigate some pieces of transfer business in that era of English football. The perceived unresponsiveness and lack of co-operation on the part of Pini Zahavi and Barry Silkman, agents who were involved in the Ghanaian's transfer, were cited as the main reasons for the said suspicions.|
|12 August 2007||Chelsea needed only to avoid defeat against Birmingham to eclipse Liverpool's run of 63 games (set between 1978 and 1981) unbeaten at home. Essien's 50th minute strike from the edge of the area gave Mourinho the win he craved to mark the occasion. Cue ecstatic celebrations that, quite regrettably, saw the 'Bison' ending up booked. 3-2 it ended.|
|10 October 2007||Essien received a third-straight Fifa World Player of the Year nomination and placed 15th this time. In subsequent weeks, he also earned nominations for the Ballon d'Or and African Footballer of the Year awards.|
|21 May 2008||Chelsea reached a maiden Champions League final, with Essien playing a key role throughout the campaign. The quest for the 'Big Ears' ended in heartbreaking disappointment, though, as Manchester United claimed victory in the all-English affair via a penalty shootout.|
|22 July 2008||Almost a year after his initial contract extension for Chelsea, Essien was offered a longer-term deal that would keep him at the club till 2013, which, of course, he promptly consented to.|
|5 September 2008||Essien suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury while playing for Ghana in a World Cup qualifier against Libya which forced him out of action for the majority of the 2008-09 Premier League season. He only returned in March 2009.|
|6 May 2009||Two months after regaining full fitness, Essien scored another classic: a left-footed volley in the Champions League semi-final second-leg against FC Barcelona at Stamford Bridge. Barca equalised through Andres Iniesta at the death, ensuring Chelsea missed out on a second successive final appearance on the away goals rule. That notwithstanding, Essien's goal was voted the club's finest of the concluding season and was also nominated for Fifa's Puskas Award.|
|21 November 2009||Essien registered his first brace for Chelsea against Wolverhampton Wanderers, with the goals coming in the form of a header, and a low shot from outside the box. But for the heroics of Wolves 'keeper Wayne Hennessey, the former Bastia man could even have notched a third.|
|15 January 2010||Essien suffered meniscal damage after a bad tackle by club colleague Didier Drogba while in action for Ghana against the Ivory Coast in the Black Stars' opening fixture at the 2010 Nations Cup. Essien was ruled out for six months but, even in his absence, the club eventually finished the season with a League and Cup Double under Italian manager Carlo Ancelotti.|
|4 June 2010||Essien signed a contract extension that dictated he remained at Chelsea till 2015.|
|11 July 2011||Essien underwent surgery for further damage to his ACL, sustained in pre-season training ahead of the 2011-12.|
|9 January 2012||Six months after his freshest injury, Essien returned to celebrate another milestone for Chelsea, as he made his 150th Premier League appearance for the Blues in a 1-0 win over Sunderland. He came on as a substitute on that occasion.|
|19 May 2012||Essien savoured conquest in the Uefa Champions League with Chelsea, although he featured sparingly in that victorious campaign and had no active part at all in the final as Roberto Di Matteo's team beat Bayern Munich.|
|31 August 2012||Essien signed a season-long loan deal with Spanish club Real Madrid after seeing limited playing opportunities at Chelsea, where he was re-united with 'daddy' Mourinho and, together, they returned to London when the Portuguese was handed the reins at Chelsea for a second time in summer of 2013.|
|11 January 2014||Essien played his last game for Chelsea; the briefest of cameos, in fact, after being introduced on the 90th minute mark against Hull City.|
|28 January 2014||Essien exited Chelsea for good, joining Serie A giants Milan on a free transfer set to last for the next 18 months.|