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Winston Bogarde is a name that will draw a wry smile from plenty of long-time Premier League fans and an angry sigh from a lot of Chelsea supporters. A man who actually admitted to being one of the worst ever buys for Chelsea, Bogarde became infamous during his stint at Stamford Bridge for refusing to leave the club despite getting almost no game time.
Only a few years before his arrival on English shores, the Dutch defender was on the bench for Ajax as they battled to a historic 1-0 victory in the 1995 Champions League final. A full Netherlands international who was called up for Euro 1996 and the 1998 World Cup, Bogarde’s career started brightly but finished in ridiculous fashion. Where did his journey start and what’s he doing these days? Let’s take a look.
Born in Rotterdam in 1970, Bogarde began his career with SVV in the Dutch second division. He played a handful of first-team games and caught the eye of his hometown club, Sparta Rotterdam. He’d go on to spend three years with Sparta, peaking in the 1993-94 season in which he scored 11 goals. From there, he was recruited by Ajax, moving on to Milan and then Barcelona in 1998, winning successive league titles in Spain.
Then came the move that would define his career. At the start of the 2000-01 season, he arrived in London to join up with Gianluca Vialli’s Chelsea. Vialli allegedly had no say in Bogarde’s arrival and was actually fired a few days later, replaced by Claudio Ranieri, who had little faith in Bogarde’s abilities.
The Dutchman made 11 appearances in his first season and was expected to be shipped out in the summer, but Bogarde knew that any transfer would involve a big wage drop. He was earning £40,000 a week at the time. For him, money was more important than first-team action, especially as he was in the latter stages of his career. Therefore, he vowed to turn up to training and fulfil his side of the contract but refused to seek a transfer.
It’s worth noting that Chelsea wasn’t such a rich club back then, and the higher-ups were very frustrated to be paying out such a big salary and getting nothing in return. Bogarde was demoted to the reserve and youth sides in an attempt to force him out, but the Dutchman held firm. He saw out his contract, only playing one more game for Chelsea in three years, and called time on his playing career in 2004, having earned nearly £10 million in England. That’s almost £1 million per game played.
From there, he developed an interest in professional poker, as well as investing in a music company and gaming club. He saw some ups and downs in his personal and professional life in the years that followed and had more than enough money to live very comfortably, but still paid a big price for his actions.
He developed a reputation all around Europe as the ultimate football mercenary, a player with more passion for cash than the sport itself. That reputation still clings to him to this day, and he was rejected from several coaching jobs in the UK due to his past. However, things are finally looking up for Bogarde; he was recently named assistant manager of the Ajax reserve side, Jong Ajax.
Bogarde’s journey has been a rollercoaster ride, and it could still have more surprises in store. For now, he’s happy to be back in football and having an impact at one of the top academies in Europe. Considering how far he fell at Chelsea, it’s pretty impressive that he’s managed to pull himself back up to quite a respectable position, and perhaps we’ll see him in a full managerial position in the future.