Eugene O'Neill never did do that sequel to his play The Iceman Cometh (and frankly Eidur Gudjohnsen has probably seen his fill of newspaper headlines using that particular title and playing on his nationality). But if Hollywood had ever got its hands on it, then it would undoubtedly been The Iceman Returns or maybe Cometh (Again).
Gudjohnsen's own return to Stamford Bridge last night, after leaving in the summer having grown tired of playing a walk-on part on an ever-expanding stage, was not quite so hackneyed even if it, ultimately, ended in disappointment with his substitution on the hour.
He could not quite live up to that sporting cliché of a player returning to haunt and score against his former club. He did show, perhaps, that Jose Mourinho had let something go that is not so easily replaced, but the Portuguese has already decided to go for much more of a power-play with raw athletes such as Michael Essien, Didier Drogba and the subtle, yet combative, skills of Michael Ballack. It was a bludgeon to replace the rapier. Less subtle, more effective.
Mourinho's hand was forced by Gudjohnsen's own determination to leave and few will forget the Icelander's look of despondency as he trudged around the pitch on the final day of the season after collecting his second Premiership winners' medal.
After six years, and 250 games, for the club he joined from Bolton Wanderers in the pre-Roman Abramovich days he was left with the feeling that his versatility had also condemned him to a bit part in Chelsea's increasingly lean and stellar squad.
But, last night, with Lionel Messi to one side of him and Ronaldinho on the other, it was some attack to find himself in the middle of. It was also the perfect platform to provide evidence to his cheeky pre-match claim that Chelsea were perhaps not playing so well this season because "they have lost their best player". The 28-year-old could not quite take it.
Indeed, Gudjohnsen would not have started if Samuel Eto'o had been fit. But injury has robbed Barça of the Cameroonian striker - and his pace and awareness were desperately missed - although it handed Gudjohnsen the opportunity to be so much more than the replacement from the bench - the role filled by Henrik Larsson last season - that the coach, Frank Rijkaard, had paid £8m for.
His first touches were inauspicious. Maybe the occasion had got to him, maybe it was the sight of being marked by his best friend at Chelsea, John Terry. But he was quickly robbed by Claude Makelele, overhit a pass to Messi - and then cushioned a throw-in back into the crowd.
But that soon passed. And it passed in a flurry of passes. He was involved in the wonderful move, which included an outrageous Ronaldinho back-heel, that released Xavi. The midfielder should have scored. Then there was an even defter one-two with Messi, after coming short to collect a pass from Rafael Marquez, which left Makelele stranded. Moments later he stood his ground next to Terry as Hilario flapped at a high ball. The goalkeeper was fortunate to win the free-kick.
By now Barça were shifting through their gears and playing the more fluent football and Gudjohnsen looked comfortable in that role of link man for their quicksilver attack. But, for them, half-time proved untimely. Clearly, Mourinho felt his team were being outplayed and outpassed, and they raised their tempo. Suddenly, Gudjohnsen was peripheral again, just as he had found himself last season.
Prior to kick-off there had been a presentation by Chelsea to him. Perhaps caught in the emotion - or perhaps a habit he has quickly picked up from his new home - he decided to kiss the cheek of the PA announcer. When his name was read out it was the only one not booed. As he ran from the pitch, to be replaced by Ludovic Giuly, there was just a smattering of applause. His time at Chelsea had passed.Reuse content