By Muambo Edward 

Football Writer, Cameroon

Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea FC in 2003 for £140 million, a then British record fee.

Chelsea had just secured a Champions League spot under Italian Manager Claudio Ranieri.

The club was under a lot of financial pressure under the then owner Ken Bates.

Chelsea’s Champions League qualification could have played a part in Abramovich’s choice, but one former Premier League Manager has claimed that his advise was what made the difference. Former England and Manchester City Manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has said he advised the Russian to pick Chelsea over Tottenham.

According to report from The Times, when Abramovich was trying to figure out which club will best suit his ambitions, Israeli football agent Pini Zahavi invited the Eriksson to meet a friend who wanted to invest in football. The friend turned out to be Roman Abramovich.

In their meeting Abramovich revealed that he was looking at the options to buy a club in London, and was trying to figure out whether he should go for Chelsea or Tottenham.

Eriksson’s advise according to him was key to his final choice as reported by The Times.

“We met at Les Ambassadeurs [a casino and club in London]. There were three men standing there. One is properly dressed, the other is so-so and the third, I thought he was the driver. Of course that was Roman,” Eriksson recounts.

Sven and Roman

“He wanted to buy a club in Moscow, so we went to Moscow for three days, Pini, him and me. We saw all the clubs and I said buy Dinamo. They had the best facilities.

“I went on holiday and his right-hand man phoned. Roman has changed his mind. He said we wants to buy a club in London. Tottenham or Chelsea? I said ‘What does he want to do?’ He said he wants to win. I said ‘So buy Chelsea. There you have to change half the team. Tottenham you have to change the entire team.’”

The 71-year-old Swedish coach won three Portuguese league titles with Benfica, and the Italian Serie A title with Lazio amongst other accolades.

Whether his advise is what swayed the balance in Chelsea’s favour is difficult to say categorically, but it is abvious that he gave the Russian good advise, as Chelsea has gone on to develop into a real winning machine.

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