Chopper Harris, known to his mum as Ronald Edward Harris, was one of the stalwarts of Chelsea in the Sixties and Seventies and is affectionately remembered as one of the club's favourite sons. He belonged to an era where teams routinely had a hard man to shackle the opposition's more creative players, and none came harder than Harris. In fact his nickname, Chopper, came from the ruthless manner in which he chopped down his opposite number's legs. But you didn't spend as long at the top with one of the country's most glamorous teams without being able to play a bit too, and Chopper undoubtedly had footballing talent to match his appetite for the tackle.
Harris was a member of the Chelsea side that won the FA Youth Cup in 1961 and a year later he made his full debut against Sheffield Wednesday. He quickly established himself in the first team, holding his place for a staggering eighteen years, during which time he made 655 appearances while notching 13 goals.
Playing alongside other talented youngsters such as Peter Osgood and Peter Bonetti, his first senior medal came in 1965 with Chelsea's League Cup win over Leicester City. The following season he was made club captain after the departure of Terry Venables to Tottenham Hotspur and in 1967 he became the youngest ever captain to lead his side out in an FA Cup Final. Sadly for Harris he was on the losing side as Venables' new club ran out 2-1 winners.
He only had to wait three years, though, for his next stab at the famous trophy, this time against Don Revie's notoriously cynical and uncompromising Leeds United side in the 1970 FA Cup final. The game was hampered by the poor pitch, coming as it did, only a week after the Horse Of The Year show had taken place at Wembley. Leeds had the best of the match, with the skilful winger Eddie Gray in particular tormenting David Webb, and only six minutes remained on the clock when Ian Hutchison headed home John Hollins' free-kick.
It set up the first FA Cup final replay since 1912 and remains the only FA Cup final to be played outside Wembley during 1923 and 2000, until the ground's redevelopment. Watched by a record 28 million viewers, the Old Trafford replay is still one of the most notorious games in English history. Modern-day referee David Elleray replayed the match recently and concluded that had the game been played now he would have had to issue six red cards and 20 yellows!
Ron Harris cemented his place in Chelsea folklore in just the sixth minute when a lively tackle on Webb's erstwhile tormentor Eddie Gray left him hobbling and a virtual spectator for the rest of the match. Jack Charlton headbutted Peter Osgood, before Mick Jones injured Chelsea keeper Peter Bonetti while bundling him into the net. Two minutes later, he rubbed salt into the wounds by rounded the immobile keeper to put Leeds 1-0 up. For good measure, Norman Hunter and Ian Hutchison passed the time with a fist fight.
Hutchison later enraged Charlton by administering a dead leg to him, and while Big Jack ran after him to exact revenge, Osgood, the man he should have been marking, equalised with a diving header. The game went to extra time and with the clock ticking down, Webb poked home a Hutchison long throw to put the flamboyant southerners in the lead for the first time. The Blues clung on to win their first FA Cup, with captain Harris lifting old Big Ears to the delight of the Stamford Bridge faithful.
The following season saw Harris lift Chelsea's first European trophy, the European Cup Winners Cup. The first match at the Karaiskakis stadium in Athens, Greece, finished 1-1 between The Blues and Spanish giants Real Madrid, so a replay was staged two days later at the same venue. Chelsea won 2-1 thanks to goals by Peter Osgood and John Dempsey. Harris played his last major final for the club the following year, when Chelsea surprisingly lost the League Cup final to Stoke City.
He finally left Stamford Bridge in 1980 to become player-coach at Brentford and later had a brief stint as player-manager at Aldershot. But it is at Chelsea, where he has had a suite named after him, that he will always be a legend.