The Original Villas-Boas?

Posted: June 27, 2011 by GaryCRobertson in Chelsea, England, Guest, Legends, Random

We all know the background behind the new Chelsea Manager, Andre Villas-Boas. He was only a youngster when he knocked on Bobby Robson’s door asking for advice. Since then he has gone on to learn from some of the very best in the game, landing himself one of the highest profile jobs in the world. But is his story original?

Many years ago, when I was just 15 years old, my school friends and I had to do a week and a half of ‘vocational experience’ as part of our school work. The idea was to gain some valuable experience in the workplace in order to get a taste of things to come. We could either let the school arrange our placement, or we could organise it ourselves. Some of my friends went to a local vet, newspaper or their dad’s workplace. However, this wasn’t my sort of thing. When I was 15 I was only interested in one type of career; professional football!

I grew up living on the Sussex coast, and so the easiest option would be to contact Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club. Although I love football, BHAFC is not my team. The team I support is Chelsea! Therefore, with my dad’s help, I contacted Chelsea Football in the Community (FITC) to ask if I could help out there. They were more than happy for me to come in and see how the FITC team works. Sadly, my school said that the 120 mile round trip would be too far to travel each day. Too far for who?! Basically, a teacher was meant to come and observe you in your workplace and they weren’t prepared to do that.

After some negotiations it was decided I could go. I was over the moon. I mean, getting the train to Stamford Bridge everyday was hardly a chore! The only downside was the timing of the work experience. I had to do 8 days work in July, so none of the players, etc, were likely to be around. I didn’t mind; I got to wear a Chelsea shirt to work everyday and be around the football club I loved.

On my first day I remember turning up and being asked to make loads of cups of tea and coffee. Pretty standard stuff. Another job I had to do was inflate footballs in the storeroom, which was full of all kinds of Chelsea goodies. It was great to have a little sneak around. I remember finding a load of old Chelsea scratch cards with Glenn Hoddle on the front. They were out of date so I scratched a load off. All I can say is that the club must have made a fortune from this as hardly any of them had any winners!

Anyway, I had two main jobs to do each day. The first was to prepare party food for children’s parties that took place in the Stamford Bridge Press Room. I was given a large set of keys and was allowed to let myself into the tunnel entrance, just next to the East Stand reception. I went on a tour of Stamford Bridge recently and how things have changed! I used to go into the spare changing room and make jam sandwiches, plate up biscuits and crisps, etc, and then set up the press room for the party. Perhaps one of the most fulfilling jobs in my life! Being left alone to work in a Chelsea changing room. Brilliant!!! I could see the old baths, tactics board, but sadly no player shirts.

Another great job was to help with the tours of Stamford Bridge with one of the other FITC staff members. The tour was much different then, especially as it’s only the East Stand that is still standing! I was like a sponge on the first day, soaking up all the information. It was so fascinating.

After the 8 days of a great experience I had to return to school for the last two days of the week and write a presentation on the experience. My presentation involved a prop, which I will tell you about now.

Although I had to return to school for the last two days, I decided that it would be more beneficial to spend the last day back at Chelsea! I took the train as normal and made my way to Stamford Bridge. I made the teas and coffees and was then told that Ruud Gullit may be at the Bridge later. I was so excited by the prospect of meeting him! The FITC office was across the road from the ground, and didn’t have a fax machine. Therefore, a FITC staff member and myself had to go to the East Stand, and head to the 2nd floor to send the fax and pick up the post. I took one of my Chelsea shirts with me and left it with the receptionist to ask Ruud if he would sign it when he comes in.

Later that day I had to set up a birthday party. It was quite a big one and there was loads of rubbish. I searched around to find a bin to put it in but there were none around. I went outside and headed back down the side of the East Stand then saw the then Chairman of Chelsea, Ken Bates. He called me over and asked what I was doing! A little nervous and in awe I just said I was looking for a bin to put this rubbish in. His reply was to throw it over the fence and let it be British Rail’s problem. He was, of course, joking and said carry on. Phew!

After the party was set up I had to get the midday post from the East Stand 2nd floor. On the way down the lift stopped on the 1st floor. Who walked in? The new Chelsea Manager, Ruud Gullit. He was massive, and I was completely overwhelmed. However, I quickly picked up the courage to ask him if he would sign my shirt. He was more than happy to. Imagine that, a Chelsea mad 15 year old meeting a European and World Player of the Year, and now the new manager of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge!

My heart was racing and my mind was thinking a million thoughts. Especially as my dad was coming to meet me a few hours later! I still had to help with a tour of the ground that afternoon. When I got back to the office there was a bit of a panic. The guy who did the tours was running really late and may not make it to Chelsea in time. *A-hem* I could do it? Really? Yeah, I’ve been on loads now and have learnt the script to go with it. Well, maybe then.

Eventually, the guy did turn up and we did the tour together. However, as a special thank you, I was given the keys and told I could give my dad a private tour of Stamford Bridge. WOW!!! When my dad turned up I did exactly that, including telling him the story of meeting Ken Bates and Ruud Gullit earlier!

A bit tongue-in-cheek about me being the original Villas-Boas, but I was young, I have coached football in England, America, Australia and Denmark, and now do a little bit of work for Brighton & Hove Albion. We all have to start somewhere!

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If you liked this then please follow me on Twitter: @ChelseaChadder

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