EPL

Ruud Gullit to Chelsea: The move that triggered English football's game-changing summer of 1995

By Sports Desk May 31, 2020

There are some days in English football history that stand out as turning points.

On May 31, 1995 – a full 25 years ago – Chelsea agreed a deal to sign Ruud Gullit from Sampdoria. And the face of the game changed.

The fledgling Premier League had experienced a sprinkling of overseas talent already, with Eric Cantona making a staggering impact at Leeds United and Manchester United, and Jurgen Klinsmann coming off a season-long cameo at Tottenham.

Superstar Gullit's arrival at Stamford Bridge was the cue for a transfer-market melee, a spectacular flurry of deals that still take the breath away.

To this day, a host of players recruited in the wake of Gullit's arrival, many imported from overseas, are revered in the top bracket of talent that graced their clubs and the Premier League.

Dennis Bergkamp came to Arsenal with a lofty reputation. But David Ginola, Juninho and Georgi Kinkladze joined Newcastle United, Middlesbrough and Manchester City as near-unknowns in England, destined to join the pantheon of club greats.

Euro 96 was on the horizon, lads and ladettes were supping Hooch and bathing in a summer of Britpop battles, and there was feverish optimism about the state of the nation.

Here is a look at the biggest deals of that heady few months.

RUUD GULLIT ​– SAMPDORIA TO CHELSEA

A world star, who was arguably the finest player on the planet at his peak, Gullit may not have been at the height of his career by the time he arrived in London on a free transfer, but there was no disguising the 32-year-old's star quality.

He rivalled Klinsmann as the most famous arrival since the Premier League launched in 1992, and was arguably in a higher bracket.

British television audiences had watched Gullit every week on Channel Four's popular Football Italia shows, firstly with Milan and then Sampdoria, and Chelsea manager Glenn Hoddle was smitten.

Hoddle reportedly made two trips to Italy to meet Gullit before the stunning deal went through, and the Netherlands maverick was recruited to feature as a sweeper in the new high-culture Chelsea side.

"I am very fit and by playing sweeper I can control the speed of the game," said Gullit, quoted in the Independent the following day. "If you have possession of the ball you don't have to run around chasing after it."

The sweeper experiment was soon abandoned, however, Gullit moving into a better-suited midfield role where he proved predictably majestic, going on to succeed Hoddle as Chelsea manager in 1996.

DENNIS BERGKAMP ​– INTER TO ARSENAL (and David Platt – Sampdoria to Arsenal)

Bergkamp was a real eye-catcher, joining for a then British record fee of £7.5million, albeit with question marks over his suitability for the Gunners, particularly after a rocky season at Inter.

Platt had been captain of England, and was a guaranteed solid midfield presence, but new Arsenal boss Bruce Rioch appreciated he was perhaps getting something special when Bergkamp became the first signing of his reign.

That overwhelmingly proved to be the case, and although Rioch only lasted one full season at Highbury, he could always point to his nurturing of Bergkamp as being instrumental in shaping Arsenal's future.

The non-flying Dutchman played 423 games for the Gunners, scoring 120 goals and winning a hatful of medals. Today, a bronze statue of Bergkamp stands outside Arsenal's Emirates Stadium home.

DAVID GINOLA ​– PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN TO NEWCASTLE (and Les Ferdinand – QPR to Newcastle)

Newcastle had surprisingly allowed Andy Cole to join Manchester United for £7m in January 1995, but Kevin Keegan's team went from strength to strength nonetheless.

The £2.5m arrival of Ginola proved a masterstroke, the French winger magnificent on the left wing while Keith Gillespie, a makeweight in the Cole deal, dazzled on the right.

Ferdinand was the ideal targetman and proved to be another exceptional buy, but Ginola was the fans' favourite, his trickery, pace and personality lighting up the league.

Newcastle were almost champions, Ginola at the heart of some of the most cavalier football of the decade.

GEORGI KINKLADZE ​– DINAMO TBILISI TO MANCHESTER CITY

City fans are accustomed to success nowadays, brought to them by a foreign legion featuring the likes of Pep Guardiola, Sheikh Mansour, Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and Vincent Kompany.

But there will always be a special place for Kinkladze in the hearts of City fans who saw him play in the Maine Road era, when Franny Lee was chairman and Uwe Rosler the star imported striker.

City were relegated from the Premier League in Kinkladze's first season, and he left in 1998 after a second relegation into the third tier, but the Georgian was a bright spark in dark times, his dribbling skills and free-kick ability never to be forgotten. A particularly memorable solo strike came against Southampton, a lasting gift.

STAN COLLYMORE ​– NOTTINGHAM FOREST TO LIVERPOOL

The British transfer record was broken twice in June 1995, firstly with Arsenal's swoop for Bergkamp and then when Liverpool paid £8.5m for Nottingham Forest striker Collymore.

He and Robbie Fowler formed an often menacing partnership, particularly in Collymore's first season at Anfield, but the big-money recruit lasted just two seasons with Liverpool in the 'Spice Boys' era before moving to Aston Villa for £7m.

PAUL INCE ​– MANCHESTER UNITED TO INTER

Pipped to the 1994-95 Premier League title by Blackburn Rovers, Manchester United cleared the decks and allowed star men Ince, Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis to leave Old Trafford.

It was a stunning gamble by Alex Ferguson, with Hughes and Kanchelskis joining Premier League rivals Chelsea and Everton respectively, while midfield general Ince floated off to Italy with Inter for £7.5m.

But Ferguson knew his Class of 92 youngsters were pushing for a chance at first-team level, and with the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt emerging, the old guard were barely missed, United going on to win a league and cup double.

JUNINHO ​– SAO PAULO TO MIDDLESBROUGH

This £4.75m move went through slightly later in the year, in October 1995, back when clubs could strike autumn deals.

Bryan Robson would bring in Fabrizio Ravanelli in the following close-season, but none of the Middlesbrough manager's signings are remembered quite so fondly as Juninho.

The little Brazilian was a marvel of an attacker, a low centre of gravity helping him to ride the wildest of tackles from defenders who could not handle his dribbling ability.

On Teesside, they adored the Brazilian, who began brightly enough but truly dazzled in his second season, helping Boro to reach both the FA Cup and League Cup finals.

They lost both and suffered the pain of relegation. Juninho left too, but returned for two later spells with the club that loved him best of all, winning the 2004 League Cup.

...MEANWHILE, NORTH OF THE BORDER

PAUL GASCOIGNE ​– LAZIO TO RANGERS

Chelsea had reportedly wanted Gascoigne to join Gullit in west London, but it was Scottish champions Rangers who prised the England international from Lazio, a massive coup for the Ibrox club.

'Gazza' was adored on the blue side of Glasgow and scored a raft of dazzling goals as Rangers won their eighth and ninth successive league titles.

Forgiveness even came quickly after his stunning strike past club-mate Andy Goram for England against Scotland at Euro 96.

Related items

  • Barcelona must be self-critical after letting LaLiga slip – Suarez Barcelona must be self-critical after letting LaLiga slip – Suarez

    Luis Suarez insisted Barcelona only had themselves to blame for letting LaLiga slip away, saying winning the title was now impossible.

    With two league games remaining, Barca are four points adrift of rivals and leaders Real Madrid.

    Quique Setien's men looked on track for the title but have dropped points in three of their past seven matches.

    Suarez said Barcelona needed to take responsibility for letting the league slip, admitting it was impossible to win – even with Madrid yet to officially seal the crown.

    "In the league you have to be self-critical – we let it escape ourselves," he told Mundo Deportivo.

    "We are aware that we depended on ourselves and do not find any excuse. Now, for our pride and for the prestige of Barca, we have to win the remaining two games and then focus fully on the only title we can fight, which is the Champions League.

    "If we perform at the level of why we are at this club, we can fight anyone. A failure in a match can be expensive, so we have to be very vigilant and we need everyone to be able to get the Champions League."

    Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and defender Gerard Pique have been among those to question the use of the VAR after several decisions went Real Madrid's way in recent matches.

    However, Suarez refused to use that as an excuse for his side, instead lamenting the draws against Sevilla, Celta Vigo and Atletico Madrid.

    "It is clear that if we had been up to the task in games like against Sevilla, which is a rival that can tie you, but especially in Vigo, which was a very hard blow and Atletico Madrid right after," the forward said.

    "Minimising the details of the VAR is sometimes difficult. Yes, Gerard and the president made their demonstrations public, but I think that the rivals were also fighting important things like Athletic [Bilbao], Getafe … and they were the ones affected.

    "This time, not only were we harmed, but I think we shouldn't look for so many excuses, but rather be self-critical and face reality."

  • Sarri ignoring criticism as Juventus chase trophies Sarri ignoring criticism as Juventus chase trophies

    Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri insisted he was unworried about criticism as his team continue to chase trophies this season.

    Ahead of a trip to Sassuolo on Wednesday, Juve are six points clear atop Serie A with six games left to play, and also in the Champions League last 16.

    Sarri, who has lost the Coppa Italia final and Supercoppa Italiana this season, has faced some criticism, but the Juventus coach is not bothered.

    "Honestly, I don't pay much attention to criticism, I always try to be focused only on what I can do," he told a news conference.

    "I don't know what people say on social media because I'm not on them and I will never be in my life.

    "If we talk instead of people in the streets, I only receive support and affection."

    Juventus are winless in their past two games and needed a pair of penalties from Cristiano Ronaldo to draw with Atalanta last time out.

    Sarri was asked about his side's lack of goals from midfield, but he has no concerns about their firepower, although Ronaldo (seven) and Paulo Dybala (four) have netted the majority of their goals in the past six games.

    "We scored 17 goals in the last six matches and I'm not concerned about our scoring ratio frankly," he said.

    "We all know that among our midfielders [Aaron] Ramsey is the one that can potentially score more goals considering his individual characteristics.

    "Then we have two players that are growing a lot and in the future, I'm sure they will score more like [Rodrigo] Bentancur and [Adrien] Rabiot."

  • Lampard urges Chelsea to focus ahead of 'tough' finish Lampard urges Chelsea to focus ahead of 'tough' finish

    Frank Lampard believes it will be tough for Chelsea to secure Champions League qualification despite consolidating third place on Tuesday.

    Olivier Giroud's first-half goal was enough to see Chelsea edge Norwich City 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, moving four points clear of Leicester City and Manchester United, who are fourth and fifth respectively and have played one less game.

    But Lampard's men have league matches against Liverpool and Wolves to finish their campaign as they look to secure a top-four finish.

    The Chelsea head coach believes Chelsea still face a battle to secure their place in next season's Champions League.

    "I keep talking about mentality and I don't like the word bottle too much, but when you're coming up against Liverpool away and Wolves at home, it's just two very good opponents," Lampard told a news conference.

    "We just have to focus on those games one by one, prepare right, show the right attitude, I thought we showed it [against Norwich] in a way, those two games will look completely different to what tonight did.

    "But rather than talk about bottle, I want to talk about focus and I want to talk about attitude and then hopefully we have enough to get through, but it's going to be tough."

    In Lampard's first season in charge, Chelsea are also in the FA Cup semi-finals and Champions League last 16, although they suffered a 3-0 loss to Bayern Munich in the first leg.

    The 42-year-old has been pleased with Chelsea's progress, although accepted they still had a long way to go to catch Liverpool and Manchester City.

    "We can be pretty happy with where we're at right now," Lampard said.

    "I don't want to jump the gun because we have games that are going to be really pivotal on where we actually finish, but if we were to have said we would've been in third and contesting like we are and in the FA Cup and Champions League, I know it's going to be really tough but we got through the group stage, and you see the transition of the team and the youth and the issues we had, a lot of our players were on loan last year and most of those in the Championship, I think we can be pretty happy.

    "But I really do feel like there's a lot of work to do, I don't think we should get overly excited, the gap is clear with Liverpool and Manchester City in terms of points.

    "We are in a situation here, we're in a work in progress and there is a lot to do so I'm happy and I want a lot more and when we come back for the start of next season however this season ends we have to tackle it and say, 'Can we start closing that gap?' And it's going to be a tough job."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.