FROM the moment the 17-year-old Peter Osgood made his debut for Chelsea, scoring twice in a League Cup win over Workington Town, it was clear that the West London club had a very special talent on their hands.
Tall, rangy and blessed with the full range of skills, Osgood made 380 appearances for the Blues over two spells, scoring 150 goals, as well as winning the FA Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
He also won the FA Cup again with Southampton.
Indeed, he is the last player to score in every round of the FA Cup when he achieved the feat in Chelsea’s triumphant run in 1970.
They called Ossie ‘The King of Stamford Bridge’. In fact, they still do.
In a League Cup game against Blackpool in October 1966, Osgood was on the receiving end of a bone-crunching tackle from defender Emlyn Hughes.
Osgood suffered a broken leg, which kept the 19-year-old out of the game until the following season.
Not only did he miss Chelsea’s first ever Wembley FA Cup Final but he also missed out on what most expected to be a full cap for England too.
And when he came back, he wasn’t quite the same player.
“I put on two stones in weight and never really lost it again,” he explained.
“I was 19 and playing for the under-23s and on the verge of the England side. “I was even better than Bestie.”
HARD AS NAILS
Though his reputation as one of the more flamboyant players of his generation preceded him, Osgood gave as good as he got when it came to the more physical side of the game.
Just ask Leeds United’s Norman Hunter, one of the hardest of football’s hard men.
The pair clashed on many occasions, and the man they called ‘Bite Yer Legs’ was impressed with how resilient the young striker was.
“You started getting into him a bit and to be fair he'd come back at you, would Ossie,” recalled Hunter. “He was not afraid at all.”
I was 19 and playing for the under-23s and on the verge of the England side. “I was even better than Bestie.”
HE WAS A LITTLE LIGHT-FINGERED
Having joined Southampton in 1974, Osgood found himself relegated in his first season with the Hampshire club.
But glory was just around the corner when in 1976, despite finishing sixth in the old Second Division, Saints beat the mighty Manchester United to win the FA Cup at Wembley.
Soon after, Osgood and his teammates were guests of honour at a function to celebrate the victory, along with the FA Cup itself. Cue mischief.
Osgood bet his Saints skipper Peter Rodrigues a bottle of champagne that he could steal the FA Cup and, in a flash, it was in the boot of his car as he made his way home.
“I slept with it that night,” he recalled. “I’ve slept with worse, I tell you…”
The following day, a sheepish Osgood smuggled the trophy back into the club, leaving it outside manager Lawrie McMenemy’s office before scarpering.
HE LOVED A SONG
In 1972, the Chelsea squad released an album, Blue Is The Colour, with assorted members of the team singing cover versions of well-known songs.
Osgood, meanwhile, took lead vocals on their version of Middle of the Road’s hit, Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep.
“It was just a fun time, a fun thing,” he said. “It got to number five.”
That’s not quite true, although the title track of the album did reach the Top Ten.
A MANAGER'S NIGHTMARE
As one of the principal reasons for making Chelsea the most glamourous club of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Osgood took his role as man about town very seriously.
Often, he'd be seen drinking in London’s legendary King’s Road, alongside teammates like Alan Hudson, Charlie Cooke and Ian Hutchinson. But it was too much for his boss Dave Sexton.
Despite countless warnings, Osgood carried on regardless leading Sexton to suggest a new way to find a way forward.
He simply invited Ossie into his office and threatened to lock the door and throw away the key so they could settle their differences man to man.
Osgood relented and promised to behave himself.
AND WITH ENGLAND…
Osgood’s four caps for England were scant reward for such an undoubted talent. But then he didn’t do himself any favours.
Selected as part of the England squad to go to Mexico for the 1970 World Cup Finals, Osgood had made a substitute’s appearance in the Three Lions’ opening game against Romania, but was then overlooked for the crunch match against Brazil.
And he didn’t like it one bit.
The following day Osgood skipped training and while he made a fleeting appearance in the next game against Czechoslovakia, he would not play again for his country for four long years.
And that game, a friendly against Italy at Wembley in November 1973, would be his fourth and final game for England.
Of all the stories about Peter Osgood it’s the one linking him with the actress Raquel Welch that’s perhaps garnered most attention.
After all, she was one of Hollywood’s leading ladies while he was one of the most recognisable footballers in the UK.
In February 1972, Welch, accompanied by Jimmy Hill, visited Stamford Bridge and, from her place on the touchline, cheered Osgood on as Chelsea prepared to take on Leicester City.
“She probably figured as I was standing there on the pitch doing nothing it was OK to interrupt.
"If I had been George Best I would have slipped her my number but then again if I was George Best she would have slipped me hers.
“She saw me, waved and shouted to get my attention, ‘Wooeeee, Ossie, bye-bye Ossie’.”
Later, Welch was photographed wearing a T-shirt that read: “I Scored with Peter Osgood.” He didn’t deny it.
If I had been George Best I would have slipped her my number but then again if I was George Best she would have slipped me hers."
Osgood’s 100th league goal for Chelsea had been a long time coming but when he finaly got it, scoring a double against Everton, he returned to the Blues’ dressing room expecting to be the toast of the team.
No chance. Why? Because none other than Hollywood legend Steve McQueen had dropped by to say hello.
“I walked in and no one took a blind bit of notice,” he shrugged.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Osgood passed away in March 2006, having suffered a heart attack while attending a funeral at Slough Crematorium. He was just 59.
In October that year, Chelsea held a memorial at Stamford Bridge, attended by over 2,500 fans, including former managers, players and colleagues.
That day, they also buried Osgood’s ashes under the penalty spot at the Shed End.
Four years later, a statue of Osgood was unveiled outside the ground’s West Stand, with his family and players, including then captain John Terry, in attendance.
“He is the King of Stamford Bridge, it is a simple fact,” said Terry.
“Fans will come here to have their pictures taken before the game and maybe it will become a meeting place. Parents will explain to their kids here what a player Ossie was.”
Source: Read Full Article