On 1 July 2003, Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch who got his start in business selling everything from rubber ducks to concrete mix, changed English football forever.
It was in that moment, in the late night shake of a hand between Abramovich and Ken Bates, that the Premier League became a global league.
Almost everything that has happened at the top of the English game over the past 15 years can be traced back to that moment, when Abramovich agreed to buy Chelsea for £140 million.
The Premier League had seen millionaire owners before. Chelsea themselves were owned by a millionaire, Bates, before Abramovich pitched up. Manchester United were the subject of a takeover bid from Rupert Murdoch around the turn of the millennium.
But Abramovich was the first of a new breed of owner, the first of a breed that saw Premier League clubs merely as play-things for the super rich, as a way to exert international influence.
Whether it’s the Glazers, the Abu Dhabi royal family or Abramovich, English football has now become the domain of those looking for much more than just three points and silverware.
Few modern era Premier League owners are as exacting as Abramovich, though. He has always been a very public figurehead as Chelsea owner. Some owners like to hide in the shadows, but the Russian made a point for years of being seen in his private box in the middle tier of the West Stand at Stamford Bridge.
When Chelsea won their first ever Champions League title in 2012, it was Abramovich who led Didier Drogba, Petr Cech, Frank Lampard and co. up the steps to lift the famous old trophy.
Abramovich has his finger in everything at Stamford Bridge and what the Russian says usually goes. But over the 15 years of his ownership, Abramovich has been denied one thing – an attractive, entertaining Chelsea team. Now, however, he has Maurizio Sarri and he is delivering his boss the kind of side he has always wanted.
It was presumed that ‘Sarri-ball’ would take some time to be implemented at Chelsea, particularly with Antonio Conte only leaving the club in pre-season. And yet Sarri has already forged a side that reflects his own identity as a coach, as demonstrated by the Blues’ performances in the opening five games of the season. They might even be title challengers.
Not since Andre Villas-Boas has Abramovich made such a bold pick as Chelsea manager.