On This Day: Chelsea sack Adrian Mutu

Back on this day in 2004, Romanian striker Adrian Mutu was sacked by Chelsea following a failed drugs test.

When Chelsea, armed with Roman Abramovich's warchest, completed the signing of Adrian Mutu from Parma for £15.7m during the summer of 2003, it was thought that they had secured the services of one of Italian football's hottest properties.

Indeed, Parma head coach Cesare Prandelli said of the Romanian at the time of his departure to Stamford Bridge: "He was the best player in Italy last year and he has all the qualities to be a great player in the Premiership. He's got an exceptional left foot and at 24 he can go on to be a top-class player."

Initially, it seemed that the hype was warranted as Mutu scored four goals, including a brace against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, during his first three Premier League outings.

However, the goals soon dried up and following the appointment of Jose Mourinho as manager in 2004, Mutu saw his starting opportunities at Stamford Bridge further limited.

It was believed that he had been made available for transfer by Chelsea just 12 months after his arrival, yet the 25-year-old would leave the West Londoners under somewhat of a dark cloud 10 years ago today.

Earlier that October, Mutu had tested positive for cocaine. Numerous negotiations took place, which ended with Chelsea sacking the centre-forward with immediate effect.

"We want to make clear that Chelsea has a zero tolerance policy towards drugs. This applies to both performance-enhancing drugs or so called 'recreational' drugs. They have no place at our club or in sport," read an official club statement.

"In coming to a decision on this case, Chelsea believed the club's social responsibility to its fans, players, employees and other stakeholders in football regarding drugs was more important than the major financial considerations to the company.

"Any player who takes drugs breaches his contract with the club as well as Football Association rules. The club totally supports the FA in strong action on all drugs cases."

One of Mutu's representatives, Ioan Becali, added: "I found out about the result on Tuesday. The Chelsea manager was a gentleman and called me.

"From that moment I decided to change my phone number. That is why I didn't want to go to England with my brother Victor, who also looks after Adrian, because I knew the story was true.

"I was very unhappy with Mutu and told him about the test. But he decided to go to Italy because he would be ashamed to appear in front of his colleagues ahead of this news."

Mutu was handed a seven-month suspension, before he returned to the game with Juventus. Since then, he has played for Fiorentina, Cesena, Ajaccio, Petrolul Ploiesti and Pune City.

Didier Drogba celebrates scoring for Chelsea against Tottenham Hotspur on March 19, 2008.
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