Graeme Le Saux told Fantasy Football Club he struggled to fit in during his first Chelsea spell
Graeme Le Saux told Fantasy Football Club he struggled to fit in during his first Chelsea spell.
Last Updated: 13/12/12 1:51pm
Le Saux told Fenners and Merse that, coming from the sheltered environment of Jersey, made his time at Stamford Bridge as an 18-year-old a tough one.
Enjoying different cultural pursuits to the rest of the dressing room, Le Saux felt like an outsider, as he discusses in his autobiography Left Field.
"The book was called Left Field because I played on the left of the pitch, but also because I grew up in a very different environment to other players," said the former England international.
"I grew up on a small island and went to school until I was 18. I got a lucky break, came to Chelsea and it was a school of hard knocks, really. I had a lot to learn, I was very naïve and I came in for a lot of stick. I read the Guardian, I had my own interests and that sort of set me apart.
"It was difficult. I had a great time as well, there were some fantastic players and a good group, but I didn't really fit in with anybody.
"I came in at 18, so I didn't grow up with the youth team players and I certainly wasn't a pro and first team player. It took me a long time to find where I fitted in.
"It was hard because it was a very tough dressing room. It was pretty unforgiving. For some young, naïve guy from Jersey, who thought everyone liked him, to come up against that was a bit of a challenge."
Those feelings culminated in the left-back, annoyed by boss Ian Porterfield repeatedly substituting him, ripping off his shirt when he was again substituted in a match with Southampton. It was a gesture which didn't go down well with Chelsea fans, and he was sold in March 1993 to Blackburn.
"I got subbed in a game but I'd been playing well," he said. "I had been taken off a lot of times in games before that and the manager thought I was an easy guy to take off because I didn't cost the club any money.
"But walking off the pitch that time I started untucking my shirt and the next thing I knew I had it in my hand. It was a bit of a cry for help because I was so frustrated.
"You could hear the crowd booing me but I wasn't disrespecting the shirt, I didn't mean to offend anyone. I just wanted to show my frustration with the manager."
However, Le Saux went on to win the Premier League with Blackburn in the 1994-95 season and returned to Stamford Bridge in 1997 as an England regular to a far warmer reception from Blues fans, going on to win the FA Cup, League Cup, Cup Winners' Cup and Super Cup with the London side.
"It wasn't long after that incident I left the club but, coming back, the fans were brilliant," he said.
"The whole club had changed by then, though. There was a real revolution going on, Glenn Hoddle was in charge and to come back into it as a current England player gave me the chance to put it all behind me."