The thing that makes Winston Bogarde such a footballing legend is that despite his CV boasting the likes of FC Barcelona and A.C. Milan, the Dutch defender will always been known for his comical stint at Chelsea. Whilst with the west London club, Bogarde made 12 appearances over 4 years at a rate of £686,666 per game and became a wage bill legend. So where did it all go wrong for the former Netherlands international? How did Bogarde turn from a Barcelona regular to a Premier League farce in the space of a few years?
Bogarde spent the early years of his career in his native Holland and began to build an impressive reputation as a strong, physical centre back. He featured in the Ajax’s 1995 Champions League winning squad yet it was after the final that he started to force his way into the team. Bogarde began to attract interest from across Europe in his mid-twenties and eventually completed a move to Italian giants A.C. Milan. Bogarde’s stay in Italy was however, rather brief as he spent just one season with the Rossoneri and made just 3 appearances for the Italian side.
At the end of the 1997-98 season the Dutch influence was in full flow at the Nou Camp and Bogarde joined the likes Frank De Boer, Philip Cocu and Michael Reiziger in the Barcelona side. His second season with the Catalan club was marred with injury and he only made one appearance but he was a constant performer in his other two campaigns with the club. In his final season in Spain he made 21 appearances and scored two goals from his centre back position.
In the year 2000 Bogarde made the transfer which would unfortunately define his career as he moved to west London to join Gianluca Vialli’s Chelsea side. Vialli was supposedly none the wiser to the Dutchman’s transfer as it was reportedly conducted by general manager Colin Hutchinson. Vialli departed soon after and was replaced by Claudio Ranieri, for whom there was no place in the squad for Bogarde and the Dutchman was relegated to the reserves.
It was during his 4 year stint with Chelsea that Bogarde began to lose the respect of his peers as he openly admitted his motives for staying were solely based on money. Bogarde rather comically once said:
‘This world is about money, so when you are offered those millions you take them. Few people will ever earn so many. I am one of the few fortunate’s who do. I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership, but I don’t care.’
It was this attitude that often made Bogarde the target of the English press, who were often quick to jump on the Dutchman’s back in articles and blogs about the current state of money in football. It is a shame in a way that the former Barcelona man chose to go down the career path he did as he was only 30 when he moved to Chelsea and his career was by no means over. Chelsea attempted to offload the defender on several occasions but no club was willing to match his £40,000 a week salary, and understandably so.
Winston Bogarde experienced some of the heights of European football but could have experienced a far more illustrious career had his own greed not gotten in the way. He greatly contributed to his own downfall and his fall from grace was as much his own doing as anyone else’s. The defender only has himself to blame that he is now far more known for his salary than his ability.
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