Football England recently decided that Chelsea FC were not yet properly represented in our biographies section and set about discussing who would be the most appropriate player to put in. The answer did not take long to work out.
While the recent transformation of Chelsea into England's richest and most dominant club has led to plenty of jibes from outsiders questioning the clubs' history and heritage the name Peter Osgood is all that needs to be mentioned in response to render the accusations meaningless.
Osgood was the main man on and off the pitch when Chelsea first truly came to prominence in the 1960's and early 70's, providing class, flair and character both on and off the pitch. Osgood is not a name dug up out of the archives by fans at Stamford Bridge in the last couple of years as they make a desperate attempt to forge a link with the past. His performances and personality have pervaded Stamford Bridge ever since he stepped foot in the place and will continue to provide a legacy for a long time to come. His status as a Chelsea legend is long standing and fully deserved.
Peter Osgood set out on the road to legendary status even before his arrival at Stamford Bridge and wasted no time in enhancing it once there. Osgood apparently turned down the opportunity of a trial with Arsenal before accepting one with Chelsea after his Uncle Bob had written to the club recommending him.
Within twenty minutes of the trial starting, legend has it, Osgood was taken from the pitch lest scouts from any other clubs should be slyly taking notes. Osgood signed forms as an amatuer immediately and turned professional six months later. The club knew they had something special on their hands.
Peter Osgood was a rangy youth who married good physical strength with an astonishingly assured touch. His languid style was also deceptive, he could explode into action with devastating effect.
Osgood was kept away from first team action during his first full season at Stamford Bridge, appearing only once. Although the game was a League Cup quarter final it was a decidedly low key entry as Workington Town were the opposition and less than 8,000 people turned out at the Bridge to see it. Those who did attend got an exclusive preview of the man who would quickly become the undisputed idol of the terraces. Osgood scored in a 2-0 win.
The following season, 1965-66, also began with Peter Osgood in the reserves but his blossoming talent was beginning to demand promotion and manager Tommy Docherty gave the youngster his first real chance a couple of months in. Osgood took his opportunity with both hands.
His league debut came in a 1-1 draw against Newcastle United and he scored his first goal in a 2-1 win at Sheffield United shortly afterwards. Chelsea were an improving team and Osgood improved them still further. It was not long before the newcomer was rivalling Bobby Tambling as the sides' most feared opponent.
One of the words most frequently used in describing Osgood was "natural" and that is exactly what he was. Experience was not neccessary for him to make his mark in the first division or even Europe. Osgood immediately looked at home on the big stage.
He was two footed, good in the air and while strong he was also adept in tight situations. Osgood also had an astute footballing brain which allowed him to be both an excellent target man and a player who could be employed in midfield to advantage. Confidence, never far from arrogance, was also a decided part of his make up. Osgood was a genuine entertainer and a definite character from the start.
In an exciting season Chelsea finished 5th in the first division and also reached the semi finals of both the FA and Fairs Cups. Peter Osgood showed in these games that the bigger the occasion the better he generally performed and he excelled in both cup runs.
He scored in a fine 2-1 win at Anfield against Liverpool and shone despite being man to man marked when Leeds United were also knocked out of the FA Cup. After successfully doing all this hard work, however, there was huge disappointment in a 2-0 semi final defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.
Peter Osgood was hugely influential in the 4-1 Stamford Bridge drubbing of Roma which probably led to Milan also choosing to man mark him in the next round. Karl Schnellinger, the man tormented by Alan Ball in the World Cup final, was designated to look after Osgood. Quite a compliment to the teenager who scored anyway in a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge.
Such temperament and talent in someone so young was remarkable.
Osgood's phenomenal first season made everyone impatient for his second. Unfortunately they didn't get much to see. Osgood had scored six goals in ten league games when he suffered a badly broken leg in a League Cup tie against Blackpool which kept him out for the rest of the season.
Many reckoned that Peter Osgood was never quite the same player again after this injury although this might be excusing his somewhat relaxed approach to the game and his career. Although he would go on to achieve much a more diligent individual with similar talent might well have achieved more. It would be churlish to quibble, however.
Osgood returned for the 1967-68 season and did not miss a game, allaying fears that the injury might seriously jeopardise his career.
Although Chelsea were undoubtedly a side to be reckoned with Peter Osgood would have to wait until 1970 before winning a medal to decorate his talent. He was as influential as anyone in earning it. Chelsea claimed the FA Cup that year after defeating Leeds United 2-1 in a replay at Old Trafford and Osgood scored in every round of the competition.
His goal in the replayed final remains one of his most famous. Timing his run into the penalty area to perfection Osgood brought the scores level with a dramatic diving header.
The following year there was European glory as Chelsea lifted the Cup Winners Cup after beating Real Madrid, again 2-1 after a replay. The man with the taste for the big occasion produced the goods again, scoring in both games.
Peter Osgood scored in another final in 1972 although this could not save Chelsea from a 2-1 defeat in the League Cup final against Stoke City. The talismanic striker also scored eighteen first division goals that season and eight in the Cup Winners Cup. These were all in the first round, however, as Chelsea thrashed the Luxembourg part timers of Jeunesse D'Esch, 21-0 on aggregate, Osgood scoring a three and a five in the two legs.
That season basically saw the end of Chelsea as a major force and Osgood was almost left alone from the great side as a player theoretically at his peak. Although he was still capable of brilliance the real magic had left Stamford Bridge and would be a long time in returning.
It was not surprising that Osgood's larger than life personality should now begin to clash with those in authority. He had had his arguments with Docherty in the past and now his attitude and lifestyle off the pitch began to concern Dave Sexton. As the rift began to deepen Osgood and Chelsea parted company and he headed for Southampton in a deal worth £275,000.
Although the Saints would be relegated within a couple of months of his arrival and Peter Osgood would spend the remainder of his time on the south coast playing in the second division his time there would be a happy one. From the outside, however, it had the appearance that Osgood was enjoying an early retirement.
His presence at Southampton was certainly welcome, however, and while it did not inspire a return to the first division it did help bring the club its' greatest moment. In 1976 the Saints took advantage of an exceptionally favourable passage to reach the FA Cup final. Southampton were massive underdogs to win the trophy but overcame the odds to defeat Manchester United 1-0 with a Bobby Stokes goal.
Despite a decent European campaign Osgood would leave the Dell early in the 1977-78 season as the club looked to piece together a promotion winning outfit, a mission they accomplished that season.
The Saints boss Lawrie McMenemy described Osgood as "a rascal but certainly not a villain" and it was less than surprising that he should be sent off in his last appearance for the club, along with Steve Williams, in a 2-1 defeat at Blackburn Rovers.
Peter Osgood moved to the States for a spell with Philadelphia Furies before returning to Chelsea, his spiritual home, in December 1978. Chelsea had deteriorated into a shadow of their former selves, however, and Osgood joined a dire relegation struggle. Although he again scored on his debut for the club it was telling that the goal came in a 7-2 defeat against Middlesborough.
Osgood only made fleeting appearances as the club suffered relegation and figured in only one game in the second division, a 2-1 defeat at Birmingham City.
That defeat marked the last game in charge of Danny Blanchflower with Geoff Hurst taking over as caretaker manager. There was instant conflict as Osgood was fined for refusing to play in a testimonial game and shortly afterwards he was given a free transfer.
Peter Osgood's international career never really got started even though his style of play seemed made for that level. Once again his lively personality probably had something to do with this as the resolutely staid Alf Ramsey was in charge of England while Osgood was at his best.
He was selected for a victory in Belgium shortly before the 1970 World Cup finals in Mexico and made the squad for that tournament. His involvement in Mexico was limited to two substitute appearances, however, and he was subsequently ignored.
His one other cap came three years later at home to Italy but a dismal 1-0 defeat signalled the end of his England days. This was hardly sufficient opportunity to prove himself even though his limited showings had contained plenty of promise.
Peter Osgood is another example of a flair player from that era who flattered to deceive, perhaps, although when it is considered what defenders were allowed to get away with in their efforts to stop these players that is hardly surprising.
His star certainly shone long and brightly enough to make his contribution to the original Chelsea glory days the one most fondly remembered. From the time when blue most certainly was the colour Osgood stands out as the personification of the club and what it stood for.
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