Wilkins appointed first team coach at Chelsea

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The Independent Football

Ray Wilkins renewed his 35-year relationship with Chelsea today when the Premier League leaders announced he was returning to Stamford Bridge as first team coach.

He replaces Steve Clarke who has moved to West Ham United to work under new Hammers boss and another former Chelsea favourite Gianfranco Zola.

Wilkins, who turned 52 on Sunday, joined the club as a 17-year-old trainee in 1973 and became Chelsea's youngest-ever skipper aged just 18 the following year.

It will be the third time Wilkins has been involved with Chelsea after making a total of 198 appearances for the club as a player, scoring 34 goals, between 1973 and 1979.

After also playing for Manchester United, AC Milan, Paris St Germain, Glasgow Rangers and Queens Park Rangers, as well as making 84 appearances for England, he returned to Chelsea as a coach in 1999 and was caretaker-manager for two matches in September 2000.

"He brings with him a wealth of expertise and experience from his time in British and European football," the club said in a statement on their website (http://www.chelseafc.com).