Have you ever seen the movie Lost In Translation? There certainly must have been some Lost In Translation-moment when former-Ajax, Barcelona and AC Milan player Winston Bogarde was undergoing his medical in order to join Chelsea in 2000. When the injury-prone defender insisted his knee-injury was ‘recovering’ rather than ‘recurring’, all parties happily agreed to a four-year contract worth a whopping £2 million per season. It would be a contract (the pre-Abramovich) Chelsea would deeply regret signing.
When coach Gianluca Vialli (who purchased Bogarde) was replaced by Claudio Ranieri just weeks after the Dutch international”s move, it was Ranieri that wanted him to leave the club deeming him surplus to requirements – wages were far too high for a player no stanger to injuries. Bogarde knew he would not get a contract anywhere near as lucrative as what he got at Chelsea, so he decided to stay and honour his contract – regardless of what the manager, staff or fans thought.
During his time in London, the club repeatedly tried to offload Bogarde because of his enormous wages. When there were no takers, Chelsea demoted him to the reserve teams to encourage Bogarde to leave. He had no intention to do anything of the sort.
“Why should I throw millions away when it is already mine? At the moment I signed it was in fact my money, my contract. Both sides agreed wholeheartedly”, he would later say. Furthermore, when Chelsea won a domestic trophy at this time, it triggered a bonus payment in agreement with his contract, despite Bogarde not featuring at all for Chelsea.
The English press ridiculed him for his alleged selfishness. Bogarde merely responded, ‘This world is about money, so when you are offered those millions you take them. Few people will ever earn so much I am one of the few fortunates who do. I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership but I don’t care”.
When May 14th 2004 arrived, his contract was up. He shook hands with some employees at Chelsea and a couple of players and left for the airport. He was now aged 34 and never played professional football again. He had no Premier League appearances for Chelsea, pretty much rotted at the reserves and got paid an enormous amount for it. Wasn’t it Dire Straits who sang “Money For Nothing“? I’ll bet it’s the soundtrack to Bogarde’s life.