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Who is Chelsea legend Bobby Tambling?

Robert Victor Tambling, simply known as Bobby Tambling, who was born on 18 September 1941, is an English former professional player who played as a striker for Chelsea. Bobby joined the London club as a fifteen-year-old in 1957.

Tambling played his debut game for the Blues in 1959, scoring in a 3–2 victory over West Ham United. After two years, following the transfer of Jimmy Greaves to Milan, Bobby became the London club’s main centre-forward and was their leading goal scorer for five campaigns in the 1960s.

Forming a partnership with Barry Bridges, Bobby was made Chelsea captain in 1962 by coach Tommy Docherty after the London club’s relegation to the Second Division.

With Docherty adding new footballers Terry Venables and Peter Bonetti, the Blues immediately returned to the top division with Bobby as their top scorer in their first campaign back in the top league.

His record 202 for the Blues goals came in just 370 matches. By the end of the decade, Bobby had lost his place in the starting XI to younger centre-forwards like Peter Osgood and Ian Hutchinson.

Tambling played just seven matches for the Blues in the 1969–70 campaign and was not selected for the 1970 FA Cup final game between Chelsea and Leeds United. At the end of the campaign, Bobby transferred to Crystal Palace.

In 2004, Bobby had a suite named after him at Stamford Bridge in honour of his status at the London club. Tambling was named in Chelsea’s greatest ever eleven, selected to mark the Blues’ centenary.

Despite suffering from Martorell’s ulcer, a leg condition which saw Bobby admitted to hospital for four months in 2013, Tambling was able to travel from his home in Ireland to be the special guest of the Blues at their home match with Swansea City on 28 April 2013, where the former striker made “an emotional half-time lap of honour” on a wheelchair, according to a report.

Bobby Tambling’s international career

Between 1962 and 1966, Bobby played three international games for the Three Lions. Tambling had recently represented England at the U23 level. Bobby made his full England debut in November 1962 in a 4–0 victory over Wales in the British Home Championship.

In February 1963, Tambling scored his only international goal in a European Nations’ Cup qualifier, which England lost 5–2 to France at Parc de Princes.