Ron Harris - Chelsea and England Footballer #1
Ron Harris England and chelsea
Ron "Chopper" Harris (born 13 November 1944 in Hackney, London), better known as Ron "Chopper" Harris, is a former English footballer who played for Chelsea in the 1960s and 1970s. Harris is widely regarded as one of the toughest defenders of his era - along with players such as Tommy Smith MBE and Norman Hunter - hence the nickname. His brother Allan Harris was also a footballer with Chelsea and QPR and was for many years Terry Venables' coaching partner.
Harris was a member of the Chelsea side which won the FA Youth Cup in 1961 and made his senior club debut in February 1962 in a 1-0 win against Sheffield Wednesday. Within a year, he had established himself as a regular in the side, a position he would hold for the next eighteen years. He formed an important part of new Chelsea manager Tommy Docherty's youth-oriented re-building of the club after relegation from the First Division alongside the likes of Peter Bonetti, Peter Osgood and Bobby Tambling.
Upon the club's return to the top division, Harris solidified his reputation as an uncompromising - yet talented - defender with a series of strong (and sometimes notorious) performances. His first honours with Chelsea came with a League Cup win over Leicester City in 1965. In the same season, Chelsea were challenging for the league title for most of the year but ultimately finished 3rd after winning just one of their final five matches. He became club captain the following year when Terry Venables left for Tottenham Hotspur and in 1967 became the youngest ever captain to lead out a side in an FA Cup final, though they lost 2-1 to Tottenham. Chelsea, led by Harris, reached another FA Cup final three years later, this time against Leeds United - a side then at their peak in English football.
That 1970 FA Cup final is notorious for being one of the most physical of all time, and it saw Harris come into his own in the role of both inspirational leader and uncompromising tackler. With Leeds having taken a 2-1 lead at Wembley with just six minutes remaining, it was his quick free kick which led to Ian Hutchinson's headed equaliser to take the game to a replay. During the replay at Old Trafford his late tackle on Leeds' playmaker Eddie Gray after just eight minutes (just one of many late tackles committed by both sides) left the latter a virtual passenger for the rest of the match: Chelsea eventually won 2-1 after extra-time.
The following season saw Harris lift Chelsea's first major European honour - the Cup Winners' Cup - in another replayed final against Real Madrid in Athens. Chelsea also reached a second League Cup final in 1972, but surprisingly lost to Stoke in what proved to be his last major final for the club.
While many of Chelsea's star players departed during the 1970s for various reasons, Harris remained an ever-present in the side throughout a decade which saw them relegated twice and promoted once, though he lost the club captaincy to the 18-year-old Ray Wilkins. He finally left Chelsea in 1980 to become a player-coach at Brentford, having played a record 795 games for Chelsea. He later had a brief stint as player-manager of Aldershot.
He is now a football pundit (especially on Chelsea), an in-demand after-dinner speaker and recently penned an autobiography, Chopper: A Chelsea Legend. He also has a suite named after him at Stamford Bridge, in honour of his legendary status at the club.
On the 13th November 2007, he took part in the limited edition autobiography CD series "60 minutes with...", when he was interviewed by David Knight. Ron spoke in detail about his historical career (info from www.60mins.tv)
Between 1 April 2009 & April 1 2010 Ron Harris is attempting to set a new world record in signing the most autographs within a twelve month period. This is being done via a UK wide tour and via the sale of signed photos online
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