STAMFORD Bridge legend Ron 'Chopper' Harris has revealed he was offered the opportunity to lead Chelsea up to collect the Champions League trophy last month in Munich.
No man has played more games for Chelsea than Harris' 795 over a 20-year career, and he says Chelsea looked to recognise this fact when they reached their second Champions League final against Bayern Munich on May 19.
In a self-penned introduction to Harry Harris' new book 'The Roman Conquest: Chelsea, Kings of Europe 2012' , the former defensive hard man writes: “When Chelsea made it to the Champions League final, the chairman Bruce Buck spoke to me.
“Then I received a phone call from chief executive Ron Gourlay inviting me to lead the team up to collect either the losers or the winners medals, and if they won, the trophy itself.
“(Former chief executive) Peter Kenyon did it in Moscow (in 2008), but they clearly wanted a football person and they came to me having been so long at the club.”
The offer was made at a time when many were debating who would lift the trophy in the place of regular captain John Terry - suspended following a red card in the semi final.
But Harris was unable to make the date, and had to turn down Chelsea's offer.
He said: “Unfortunately, I couldn't do it because each year I attend a dinner in Ireland and when I make a commitment I don't let people down – no matter how much I wanted to do it.
“So I had to turn down the invitation to be flown over to Munich and to lead the players to collect their medals – what an honour that would have been.”
In the event, the great honour went to stand-in captain Frank Lampard , who lifted the trophy jointly with Terry.
Harris lifted Chelsea's first ever European trophy, the 1971 Cup Winners Cup; as well as the FA Cup and League Cup during his carer at Chelsea, from 1961 to 1980.
Only former Blues goalkeeper Peter Bonetti comes close to Harris' record number of games for the club.
Even present stalwarts Lampard and Terry would have to play every Blues game for another four years to catch-up - an unlikely scenario for two men in their 30s.