On this day: Chelsea sign Geremi

Eleven years ago today, Chelsea completed the signing of midfielder Geremi from Real Madrid.

Already this summer, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has parted with big money to secure the services of Spanish internationals Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa.

However, to reach the point where the West Londoners are able to attract the world's best players and managers to the club under Abramovich's control, baby steps had to be taken. It would take some time before the big names arrived through the Stamford Bridge entrance.

Full-back Glen Johnson was the first signing of the Abramovich era, with the second new face of the Russian billionaire's tenure arriving 11 years ago today.

Having fallen out of favour with Real Madrid, midfielder Geremi spent the 2002-03 campaign in the Premier League with Middlesbrough. He impressed at The Riverside, scoring seven goals over the course of his 33 outings.

Such statistics attracted the attention of Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri, who parted with £6.9m of Abramovich's cash to add the Cameroon international to his squad on a five-year contract.

Upon his arrival, Geremi said: "I'm very happy to come and play for one of the biggest teams in the Premier League. I've got a lot of ambition and I would like to win a lot of titles if it's possible and that's why I've come here.

"Chelsea want to sign big players and that is good for us. When you play with big players it is much easier. They can understand everything. You have to work hard and try to improve every day. Now let's see what will happen."

He featured regularly during his first season with the Blues, but following the appointment of Jose Mourinho 12 months later, his starting opportunities became limited. Even so, he still made enough appearances to earn a medal in both of Chelsea's back-to-back Premier League successes of 2005 and 2006.

After four seasons with the club, Geremi moved on to Newcastle United, where he would spend three years, before his career wound down in Turkey and Greece.

Claudio Ranieri stands between new Chelsea signings Joe Cole and Juan Sebastian Veron in 2003.
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