After Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003, his security team would use different routes to take him to the training ground as they were fearful of an attack, according to former Blues midfielder Sebastian Kneissl
Roman Abramovich’s security staff apparently used a different route every time they drove him to Chelsea’s training ground because they “feared an attack on him”.
Forgotten Blues midfielder Sebastian Kneissl has opened up about the “surreal” day the Russian billionaire arrived at the club for the first time in 2003.
Six limousines apparently sped into Chelsea’s former Harlington training complex, before Abramovich emerged and walked over to meet the players one by one.
“I thought ‘Holy s***, what is happening?’,” Kneissl told Goal.
“There were always five or six limousines, they changed their route every time because they feared an attack on him.
“Nobody knew in which car he was. [It was] Surreal. He then came onto the pitch. We lined up like we do at an official match.
“He went by, player by player, looked everybody in the eye, said hello and tried to say something in English. John Terry introduced him to every player.”
Kneissl said he was incredibly nervous to meet the new owner, despite having no idea who he was, and remembers expecting a “bodybuilding type” to emerge from the convoy of limos.
“It was funny, because I thought some Russian giant would show up. Some bodybuilding type. But then came Roman who is rather small and thin. And he was just happy to be there,” the German said.
“That was nice. He was shaking your hand and seemed like a kid unwrapping his presents on Christmas.”
Abramovich decided to put Chelsea up for sale last week after 19 years of ownership in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which has put his UK-based assets under serious threat.
He’s chosen to waive the £1.5 billion worth of debt the club owes him, insisting in a statement that “this has never been about business nor money for me, but about pure passion for the game and club.”
Kneissl, who joined Chelsea’s ranks as a 17-year-old, failed to make a single senior appearance for the club before being released in 2005.