WHEN Roman Abramovich purchased Chelsea from Ken Bates on this day in 2003, no one could have predicted how the Russian’s arrival would shake up the Premier League.
Having seen Manchester United dominate the English football landscape since the introduction of the revamped top flight, the Blues were soon to become a force powerful enough to lock horns with Alex Ferguson’s all-conquering squad.
In his first summer in charge, the billionaire bankrolled the arrival of £150million worth of talent, with stars such as Hernan Crespo, Claude Makelele and Juan Sebastian Veron arriving at Stamford Bridge.
Along with opening his wallet on a regular basis, the first term of the Abramovich era gave an indication of his ruthless streak as boss Claudio Ranieri quickly became known as the ‘Dead Man Walking’ before the axe fell at the end of the campaign.
Managers have come and gone on a frequent basis since then, but the first decade of the oligarch's reign has delivered three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, the Champions League title he so dearly craved and the Europa League.
An estimated £874m has been spent on transfers with another £1.5billion on wages, but Chelsea’s silent supremo has indicated he is far from finished.
And as the Londoners look ahead to a bright future, SunSport runs the rule over the top five signings and top five flops the Blues faithful have grown to love and hate in equal measure over the last 10 years.
TOP FIVE SIGNINGS
1) Jose Mourinho
OK, the Special One wasn’t a signing in the traditional sense and cost far less than the endless procession of stars who followed him to Stamford Bridge, but the Abramovich era would not have cranked into gear without him.
Having won the Champions League in his final season with Porto, Mourinho replaced Claudio Ranieri in June 2004 and won both the League Cup and the Premier League in his first season in charge.
The Blues successfully defended the title the following campaign and the Portuguese delivered another League Cup and the FA Cup before departing in September 2007 by ‘mutual consent’.
Chelsea fans — along with Abramovich and Co — will hope the outspoken boss will enjoy just as much success the second time around.
2) Didier Drogba
SIGNING for the Blues in July 2004 for £24m, Drogba took time to settle despite scoring in just his third competitive game for the club with a header against Crystal Palace.
Initially, his histrionics did not go down well with the critics or the Bridge faithful, but the powerful Ivorian soon won them over by becoming one of the club’s tried and trusted lieutenants.
The hitman quickly proved he was the man for the big occasion and developed a taste for scoring goals at Wembley.
Having already won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups and two Community Shields, the Drog ensured his place in the club’s history books by scoring Chelsea’s equaliser in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich before netting the decisive penalty in the shootout.
3) Claude Makelele
WHEN Makelele arrived at the Bridge in 2003, Ranieri declared: “I have a fantastic watch. It is run by a battery and Claude is my new battery. Claude is very important for the future of Chelsea. He is a playmaker. The best.”
At the time, many laughed off the comments but Makelele proved to be everything the Italian had described him as.
The Frenchman made the Blues tick and the former Real Madrid man became an even more influential figure when Mourinho arrived in London.
By the time he left the Bridge for Paris Saint-Germain in 2008, Makelele had won two league titles, one FA Cup, two League Cups and the Community Shield.
Not only that, the holding midfielder with the beaming smile even managed to score TWO goals before heading home to France.
4) Ashley Cole
AFTER his acrimonious split from Arsenal in 2006, which saw him dubbed ‘Cashley’ by the Gunners faithful, Cole set about silencing his critics in the only way he knows how — by winning trophies.
He had already become accustomed to silverware having twice won the league title and three FA Cups in North London.
But with Chelsea, the England left-back completed his set of medals by winning the League Cup, the Champions League and the Europa League.
Along with adding another Community Shield success to the two he enjoyed in a red shirt, Cole has also lifted the FA Cup a further four times and added another Premier League title to his CV.
Having signed a one-year extension with the Blues last season, Cole will no doubt be happy to buy an even bigger trophy cabinet now that Mourinho is back at the helm.
5) Juan Mata
WHILE Mata is still one of the more recent arrivals at the Bridge, he represents all that is good is about Chelsea’s future.
The skilful Spaniard arrived from Valencia for £23.5m in August 2011 and was handed the club’s Player of the Year award after playing a major role in guiding Roberto Di Matteo’s side to FA Cup and Champions League glory.
Mata was hardly able to catch his breath as international duty came in the shape of Spain’s successful Euro 2012 campaign and he also represented his country at London 2012.
The man likened to Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola also dazzled last season as the Blues put a turbulent campaign behind them by winning the Europa League.
Despite rumours to the contrary, the 25-year-old will play a prominent role in the second Mourinho era.
TOP FIVE FLOPS
1) Juan Sebastian Veron
CONSIDERING he had largley failed to live up to his superstar status during a spell with Manchester United, more than a few eyebrows were raised when Chelsea paid £15m for him in 2003.
Veron had wanted to stay and fight for his place at United but the talented midfielder was considered surplus to requirements and accepted the chance to continue his career in English football at Stamford Bridge.
He made a fine start by scoring the opening goal in a 2-1 victory over Liverpool at Anfield before injuries hampered his progress and restricted him to just 15 appearances in a blue shirt.
He was loaned to Inter Milan when Mourinho arrived and eventually left for Estudiantes in his native Argentina.
2) Andriy Shevchenko
WHEN Shevchenko arrived in London in 2006 for around £30m, he was one of the hottest properties in European football.
The Ukrainian had scored goals for fun at AC Milan and was widely expected to continue his rich vein of form after being handed Chelsea's No7 shirt.
But it soon became clear Sheva was an Abramovich signing and a lack of goals failed to convince both Mourinho and the Chelsea faithful that he was cut out for life in England.
With his pace appearing to fade, the feared hitman became a shadow of his former self before injuries curtailed his chances at the Bridge.
And as Drogba did the business up front, Shevchenko was eventually loaned back to Milan when Phil Scolari deemed him surplus to requirements.
He briefly returned to Chelsea after the spell in Italy before rejoining Dynamo Kiev in 2009.
3) Shaun Wright-Phillips
IN FAIRNESS to Wright-Phillips, the fact he had little impact at Chelsea was more down to a lack of chances than a shortage of talent.
At the time of his £21m move from Manchester City in 2005, it was rumoured the Blues had splashed the cash simply to keep the winger from the clutches of London rivals Arsenal.
Despite a lack of first-team football, SWP never complained and continued to battle for regular action.
He briefly flourished under Avram Grant's management and was in the starting XI for the League Cup final defeat to Tottenham in 2008.
Before the transfer window slammed shut in August that year, Chelsea decided to cut their losses and sold him back to City for roughly half the amount they had paid in the first place.
4) Adrian Mutu
MUTU burst onto the scene in August 2003 when Abramovich sanctioned a £15.8m fee to capture him from Italian side Parma.
He made an instant impact with four goals in three matches and appeared to have all the attributes required for a long and successful Chelsea career.
But Mourinho sensed something was not quite right and endured a stormy relationship with the Romanian striker as a result.
In the end, it was revealed the Special One's suspicions had been correct all along as Mutu failed a drugs test in September 2004.
He was promptly released by the club a month later after being handed a seven-month ban and £20,000 fine by the FA.
5) Mateja Kezman
AFTER a prolific spell in Holland with PSV Eindhoven, Kezman was expected to make an instant impact under Mourinho's guidance after signing for £5.3m in July 2004.
But the weight of expectation proved too much for the striker and he managed just seven goals in 40 appearances during his one and only season with the club.
The Chelsea faithful stuck by him throughout and there was no doubting his workrate or commitment to the cause, but it came as little surprise when the Blues let him join Atletico Madrid in June 2005 for the same fee they had originally bought him for.
Despite failing to hit the heights in London, Kezman still looks back on his time at the Bridge with fondness.
He said: "Chelsea was the best thing in my career. That was the climax of my career, for sure. Living and playing in London was something that I will never forget."