Chelsea like to remind Tottenham about the time they pinched Willian from under their noses.
In 2013, in one of the more brutal transfer ‘hijacks’, the Blues – Champions League winners in 2012 – paraded their transfer might
Spurs were very interested in signing the Brazil international, who was playing for Anzhi Makhachkala in Russia at the time, and manager Andre Villas-Boas believed a deal was pretty much over the line.
A medical was scheduled for Willian, a player they would have hoped to bring to the club using some of the money they got from selling Gareth Bale to Real Madrid for £85m that summer.
But then Chelsea came calling.
Former owner Roman Abramovich contacted Anzhi owner, Suleyman Kerimov, and the rest is history.
Chelsea eventually signed Willian on a five-year contract in a move worth around £30million.
In 2018, he told Brazilian TV show Resenha that signing for the Blues was actually his preference and revealed his agent, Kia Joorabchian, informed him of the Blues’ offer when he arrived at Spurs’ training ground.
“I said ‘So make do, I’ll get back in the van, you’ll make do and I’ll go to Chelsea, I will not sign with Tottenham.’
“I stayed there for eight hours in the training centre. Tottenham’s director said ‘I’m going to report you to FIFA, this and that, fans here in England will boo you, this and that.’ They made up a lot of things.
“I got stuck there for eight hours. Then I left and I went straight to meet the Chelsea people to sort the details and sign.”
He did and Willian made his debut for the club a couple of weeks later in their 2-1 Champions League defeat against Basel.
His first Premier League appearance saw him score just five minutes after coming off the bench away at Norwich in their 3-1 win.
Chelsea fans were clearly delighted with the player’s decision to choose them over Tottenham, so much so that they created a new chant in his name.
During his time at the club, supporters could be heard singing: “The s*** from Spurs, they booked his flight, but Willian, he saw the light, he got a call from Abramovich, and off he went to Stamford Bridge, he hates Tottenham, he hates Tottenham, he hates Tottenham and he hates Tottenham!”
Even manager Jose Mourinho laughed at the time.
“That’s the danger of medicals before contracts,” he said with a smile on his face.
Willian played 339 times for Chelsea during seven seasons at the club, scoring 63 goals in all competitions.
In his 17 appearances against Spurs, he scored four goals and recorded one assist.
After winning two Premier League titles, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Europa League, Willian then made Tottenham sick again by signing for their north London rivals Arsenal in 2020.
He spent one season at the Emirates Stadium before returning to Corinthians for a year, and he now plays his football back in the Premier League at Fulham.
Willian was a successful signing for Chelsea as he played a helping hand on their way to silverware.
He will no doubt be pleased to have made such a decision as things could have been so different at Spurs given they are waiting on a first trophy since 2008.