Alex Morton / Action Images
It’s the end of an era at Chelsea, as longstanding right full-back Branislav Ivanovic will bid farewell to Stamford Bridge to join Russian outfit Zenit St. Petersburg, the two clubs confirmed Wednesday.
Ivanovic, 32, joins his new club on a free transfer, according to Sky Sports, having signed a two-and-a-half year contract. He departs the Blues with a decade of experience under his belt and with fondness from the team’s faithful fans who can give full credit to the Serbia captain for his defensive prowess and penchant for goals.
In Ivanovic, Zenit gains a player who has had his playing time reduced under Antonio Conte, who uses a 3-4-3 formation that sees Victor Moses play as a right wing-back.
But his exit from Chelsea has been as quiet and nondescript as he has been on the field. His was never a game of flare, but rather head-down hard work, and that is what Blues supporters will remember best.
That, and his goals – of which there were many.
He first shot into the limelight with a brace against Liverpool in the 2008-09 Champions League quarter-final stage, securing a 3-1 win at Anfield.
His contributions on the score sheet proved vital in the 2014-15 campaign, as Ivanovic scored in four successive matches between the end of January and through February, securing wins or draws in the Premier League, League Cup, and Champions League.
But his greatest moment came in the final of the 2013 Europa League, when he scored a 93rd-minute game-winning goal against Benfica to secure the title.
Happy memories, each, for a man who sacrificed his body time and time again in equal fashion with crunching tackles – and, on one instance, a nibble on the shoulder from Luis Suarez.
Now, Ivanovic faces a new challenge, competing with Aleksandr Anyukov and Igor Smolnikov for a starting spot at right-back in Mircea Lucescu’s side, currently second in the Russian league.