The former England full-back has offered an insight into his trophy-laden six-year spell with the Blues and subsequent switch to Etihad Stadium
Wayne Bridge has discussed his relationship with Roman Abramovich at Chelsea while also revealing how Jose Mourinho conducted himself behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge.
Bridge joined Chelsea from Southampton in the summer of 2003 and went on to make 142 appearances for the club across all competitions, winning the Premier League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup along the way.
The former full-back’s arrival at Stamford Bridge coincided with Abramovich’s lucrative takeover of the club, and he says the Russian always did his best to keep in touch with the players and that he wanted to be “one of the lads”.
What’s been said?
Speaking in his role as an ambassador for bettingexpert.com, Bridge told Goal and SPOX of Abramovich: “Roman loves Chelsea. He enjoyed being in the dressing room with us players.
“He would have loved to have been one of the lads. When he didn’t have time because of other obligations and we hadn’t seen him in a long time, we were always worried about him.
“He is very nice and down to earth despite all his money. In public, Roman likes to pretend he doesn’t speak English but he is actually good to talk to.
“When the players were on vacation back then and he happened to be in the area, he always contacted us. Once I was in the south of France at the same time as him so he invited me in to eat with him.”
Bridge’s move to Man City
Bridge also revealed how Abramovich jokingly disapproved of his transfer to Manchester City in 2009.
The ex-England international was one of the first big-name signings to arrive at the Etihad Stadium after they were bought by the Abu Dhabi United Group led by Sheikh Mansour.
Bridge said of Abramovich’s reaction: “We met shortly after the transfer. He joked that I only moved to City because of the money!”
Bridge on Mourinho
Three of Bridge’s six years at Chelsea were spent working under Mourinho, who delivered the club’s first two Premier League titles, along with three League Cups and one FA Cup between 2003 and 2007.
He says the Portuguese was capable of giving rousing team talks to motivate the squad, but has also revealed that he often handed that responsibility over to his players – something Thomas Tuchel is rumoured to have done prior to the Blues’ Champions League final victory over Manchester City.
“He could give very motivating team talks, but did not do that so often,” said Bridge. “Instead, Mourinho implemented a new system at Chelsea: he nominated players for team talks.
“That’s a great idea in my opinion. It was my turn before a game against Manchester United, shortly after I broke my leg. I was on crutches and tried to push the team.
“Since then, other coaches have also adopted this system. I heard that before Chelsea’s Champions League final victory over City, it was not Tuchel but the masseur Billy McCulloch who gave the final speech.”
Bridge also opened up on Mourinho’s eventual sacking, admitting that even though some players had grown tired of his personality, there were many who were upset when his departure was confirmed.
“The relationship wasn’t broken, but some players couldn’t cope with his character anymore,” he added. “The day he was released was nevertheless very emotional and some players cried. We felt we had let him down.”