On Tuesday evening, Steve Sidwell made the decision to announce his retirement from professional football after almost two decades near the top of the English football pyramid.
The attacking midfielder spent ten years with London clubs which included Arsenal, where he began his career, Brentford, Reading, Chelsea and Fulham. When he ventured outside the capital, Sidwell made appearances for Brighton, Aston Villa, Stoke City and everywhere the 35-year-old has been, he is extremely well-respected, the sign of a true professional.
Jose Mourinho brought the South Londoner to Stamford Bridge at the beginning of the 2007/08 season on a free transfer and it was clear from day one that he would be used as a squad player rather than a regular starter. His first appearance for the Blues came off the bench at Wembley against Manchester United in the Community Shield where he and his new team-mate were beaten on penalties.
It was a week later that Sidwell to played his first Premier League game for Chelsea as he replaced Florent Malouda with 10 minutes left in a 3-2 win over Birmingham City. This was the first of 15 league appearances during the year he spent with the Blues but a goal was something that alluded him in the top-flight. The Championship journeyman did score once in that period but it came in the Carling Cup away at Hull in the third round.
When Mourinho left under a cloud of smoke midway through September and Avram Grant came in, it became even harder for Sidwell to break into the team. When a few of the so-called ‘lesser teams’ were reportedly interested, it was the perfect chance for him to leave Chelsea, choosing to join Aston Villa for a fee in the region of £5 million.
Despite such a short stint at the Bridge, Steve Sidwell is someone who gained plenty of friends and supporters during his time and everyone at Chelsea FC Online would like to wish him a peaceful and successful retirement.