Chelsea fans on Twitter wished a happy birthday to former striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who celebrates his turning 42 years of age today.
The Blues legend was part of the pre-Roman Abramovich era of the club and holds a number of club records including the most goals scored in a single game and took honours for the 2000/01 Golden Boot during his four years at Stamford Bridge but how does his record stand up next to the man who came into replace him in 2004, Didier Drogba?
The Ivorian striker arrived in 2004 to join the likes of Petr Cech, Ricardo Carvalho, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Damien Duff, William Gallas, Arjen Robben, John Terry and Geremi who were on the books as Jose Mourinho began his first spell in charge.
Drogba made 341 appearances and scored 157 goals for Chelsea over eight years and helped the Blues to win no less than three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups and a Champions League title and ended his career with the Blues as their fourth highest goal scorer in history.
However, Drogba arrived to find a club with the financial investment of owner Roman Abramovich which his Dutch predecessor Hasselbaink did not – the Dutchman arrived to join a team with a number of Blues legends like Frank Leboeuf, Marcel Desailly, Gus Poyet, Dennis Wise, Graeme Le Saux, Roberto DI Matteo, Gianfranco Zola and very young future captain, then 20-year-old John Terry.
The glory years laid in wait for the Stanford Bridge faithful, just as Hasselbaink left but his quality and his record speak for themselves – he won the Golden Boot in his first season with an impressive 23 league goals, a tally which he was able to equal the following season in 2001/02.
He made a total of 177 appearances and scored 87 goals in all competitions. In terms of goal per game ratio, his 0.49 goals per game actually beats Drogba’s 0.46 goals per game ratio and, considering the huge influx of talent brought in during Drogba’s reign at the Bridge, you’d have to give credit to Hasselbaink for his record in front of goal.
He came in for £15 million, which was a club record at the time – Drogba came in for £24 million four years later.
Clearly there were still a number of top quality players on the books at the Bridge when Hasselbaink was around but not to the extent that Chelsea were challenging genuinely for titles in that period.
I think in terms of ‘legend’ status Drogba certainly has the edge over Hasselbaink but, in terms of his scoring record and his contribution in the years leading up to the takeover, Hasselbaink may have left a legacy that Drogba was able to build on take to the next level. In that sense, arguably, Hasselbaink paved the road for Drogba’s success at Chelsea.