Dennis Wise

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Dennis Wise
0Full Name Dennis Frank Wise
0Date of Birth 16 December 1966
0Place of Birth Kensington, London
0Position Midfielder
0Chelsea career 1990–2001
0Debut 25 August 1990
0Games (goals) 445 (76)
0Other clubs Wimbledon
Grebbestads IF (loan)
Leicester City
Coventry City

Dennis Frank Wise (born 16 December 1966 in Kensington, west London) is a former English international midfielder who played for Chelsea from 1990 until 2001, having signed from Wimbledon. During his time at Chelsea, Wise won two FA Cups, a League Cup and a Cup Winners' Cup, making him Chelsea's most successful captain at the time, though he has since been overtaken by John Terry. A central midfielder, Wise was best known for his competitive style of play, though he also possessed excellent passing ability and an eye for goal. He won 21 caps for England over a ten year period, and scored one goal. Wise would later play for Leicester City, Millwall, Southampton and Coventry City before moving into management.

Though one of Chelsea's best and most inspirational players during the 1990s — he was voted Chelsea player of the year in 1998 and 2000 — Wise's career at Chelsea was punctuated by regular suspensions, often following red cards.


Before Chelsea

Wise started his career as an apprentice with Southampton, but was left without a club after he fell out with manager Lawrie McMenemy. He moved to Wimbledon on 28 March 1985 at the age of 18 and remained at Plough Lane for over 5 years as Wimbledon consolidated their position in the First Division, having risen from Division Four in only four years. He was a member of the Wimbledon "Crazy Gang" that defeated hot favourites Liverpool 1-0 at Wembley in the 1988 FA Cup Final and supplied the cross from a free kick from which Lawrie Sanchez scored the winning goal. Previously, in 1985, Wise had been loaned to Swedish non-League club Grebbestads IF, where he scored 5 goals in 10 games.

Chelsea career


Wise signed for Chelsea on 3 July 1990 for a then-club record fee of £1.6 million. He made his debut in a 2-1 win against Derby County at Stamford Bridge, his impressive performance making him an instant hit with the Chelsea fans, but he was sent off in the next game against Crystal Palace three days later; an early example of the disciplinary problems that would dog his Chelsea career. Despite 13 goals in his debut season (eight were penalties), Wise largely failed to reproduce his Wimbledon form, though he ended the season well, buoyed by a first call-up to the England side for European Championships qualifying match against Turkey, in which he scored his first and only international goal.

Wise's former Wimbledon team mate Vinnie Jones joined Chelsea prior to the 1991-92 season, and the intimidating presence of his fellow Londoner in the middle of the park seemed to help him rediscover his best form. Wise was Chelsea's top scorer for the season with 14 goals from midfield, with perhaps his best perfomance coming in a 2-1 victory away to Liverpool; Chelsea's first league win at Anfield since 1935. After reaching double figures in his first two seasons at Chelsea, Wise scored just 4 goals in a largely forgettable 1992-93 season, though his importance to the team was underlined when his two-month injury layoff halfway through the season coincided with an extended winless streak for the Blues.


Following the departure of captain Andy Townsend in the close season, and the arrival of Glenn Hoddle as manager, Wise's growing stature within the side was recognised, with Hoddle installing him as captain. Though league form was disappointing throughout the 1993-94 season, with the Blues finishing 14th, Wise led Chelsea to their first FA Cup Final in 34 years, though he couldn't prevent the Blues crashing to a 4-0 defeat to Manchester United.

Wise started the 1994-95 season in good form, contributing to impressive wins against Leeds United and Manchester City, before ill-discipline returned; Wise receiving a red card for swearing against Newcastle. Worse was to follow off the pitch; in 1995 Wise was convicted of assaulting a London taxi-driver, and given a three-month prison sentence, which was later overturned on appeal. He was nonetheless briefly stripped of the Chelsea captaincy by Hoddle over the affair, and a long term injury in the second half of the season capped a miserable season for the midfielder.

The 1995-96 season began with Chelsea showing their intent in the transfer market, bolstering their squad with the experienced signings of Mark Hughes and Ruud Gullit. League form was again indifferent at best, but Wise led the push towards finally ending Chelsea's long period without a major trophy in the FA Cup. Having knocked out title-contenders Newcastle United on penalties in the third round, with Wise scoring from the spot in normal time and the shootout, and the midfielder's former club Wimbledon in the quarters, Chelsea reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the second time in three seasons. The Blues lost 2-1, again to Manchester United, but the long-suffering Chelsea fans would have to wait just one more season for victory in the competition.


The 1996-97 season was preceded with more activity in the transfer market, the talented trio of Roberto Di Matteo, Gianluca Vialli and Frank Leboeuf later joined by Gianfranco Zola three months into the season. Wise remained the heart of the Chelsea side however, and helped to forge the team spirit, enthusiastically shared by the new arrivals, that would lead Chelsea to success. Following the tragic death of club vice-chairman Matthew Harding in October 1996, the side seemed at times during the remainder of the season to be playing in his memory, with Wise leading from the front by scoring the first goal in the opening match of the season's FA Cup campaign. Following a memorable comeback against Liverpool in the next round, the Blues defeated Leicester City, Portsmouth and - once again - Wise's former club Wimbledon, before beating Middlesbrough 2-0 in the final to end Chelsea's 26-year wait for a major trophy. In the process Wise became the first Chelsea captain to lift the FA Cup at Wembley, the 1970 victory having come in a replay at Old Trafford.

Chelsea's success would continue in the 1997-98 season. Wise first led Chelsea to victory in the League Cup - another 2-0 win against Middlesbrough - the midfielder's cross for Frank Sinclair's opener capping a superb display. Wise also made a decisive contribution in the Cup Winners' Cup Final, a dinked pass over the Stuttgart defence setting up Gianfranco Zola to score the winner, moments after coming on as a substitute.


The UEFA Super Cup was Chelsea's only silverware during the 1998-99 season, and Wise's season was marred by disciplinary problems, the midfielder receiving three red cards in addition to being charged with biting the arm of Real Mallorca defender Elena Marcelino in the second half of Cup Winners' Cup semi-final first-leg 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge, though he was later cleared by UEFA. However, a third-placed finish in the Premier League for the Blues meant that Wise, and Chelsea, would compete in the UEFA Champions League for the first time the following season.

Wise proved that he belonged in Europe's premier club competition with a series of fine displays. He scored in a remarkable 5-0 win against Galatasaray in Turkey before scoring a memorable equaliser in the San Siro against AC Milan in the first group stage. Wise was also on the scoresheet against Marseille and Feyenoord. The Blues eventually exited the competition at the quarter-final stage in what had been an impressive debut season in the competition, with Wise one of the stars of the side. Though there was no doubting the maturity in his play, in the second half of the season Wise's displinary problems resurfaced. In February 2000 he was charged with misconduct by the FA following an alleged confrontation in the tunnel after the 3-1 defeat of Wimbledon at Stamford Bridge, and was later fined £7,500. The season would end on another high for the midfielder however; Wise winning the FA Cup at Wembley for the third time in his career, and the second time with Chelsea, after a 1-0 win against Aston Villa. In the process Wise became Chelsea's most successful captain, having won four major trophies with the Blues.

With Gianluca Vialli departing as manager early in the 2000-01 season, Wise's Chelsea career appeared to be coming to an end with new manager Claudio Ranieri seeking to lower the average age of the Chelsea squad. Wise made 42 appearances and scored three goals in his final season for the Blues, before being sold to Leicester City on 25 June 2001 for £1.6 million.

After Chelsea

Wise's time at Leicester was less successful and equally marred by controversy. He made just 17 league appearances, scoring once against Liverpool, and was sent home from a pre-season tour of Finland and suspended by the club on 20 July 2002, after breaking the nose and jaw of team-mate Callum Davidson, who was trying to act as a peacemaker in a dispute between Wise and another player. As a result of the assault, Wise was sacked by the club for serious misconduct on 2 August. Wise successfully appealed against the decision before Leicester won an appeal to have the decision reversed.

Wise then signed for Millwall on 24 September 2002 and became player-manager in 2003. Millwall were the first team from outside the top flight to reach the FA Cup final since 1992 when Wise led them to the their first ever FA Cup Final in 2004. The First Division side lost to reigning Premiership champions Manchester United 3-0. Despite losing, Millwall qualified for a place in the UEFA Cup for the first time in their history, as United had already qualified for the Champions League. They were knocked out in the first round by Hungarian champions Ferencvaros. He resigned at the end of the 2004–05 season, citing a disagreement with the new chairman as his motive.

Wise returned to Southampton on a free transfer on 27 June 2005 and made 12 appearances for the club. With the resignation of Harry Redknapp, he was briefly joint-caretaker manager of the club with Dave Bassett. However, he left St Mary's on 26 December, when George Burley was appointed as the new manager. Wise then signed a short-term "pay-as-you-play" deal with Coventry City on 19 January 2006. He joined up once again with Micky Adams, who had been his manager whilst he was at Leicester. He made an emphatic start, beginning his spell with Coventry by scoring a goal in each of his first three games with the club. On 9 May, out-of-contract Wise was released from the Ricoh Arena.

On 22 May 2006, Wise was appointed Swindon Town manager on a three-year contract, with ex-Chelsea team mate Gustavo Poyet as his assistant. Wise impressed in his first managerial role and was linked with the vacant managerial post at Leeds United in September 2006. Following the successful negotiation of acceptable compensation for Swindon on 24 October, the boards of both clubs officially confirmed that Dennis Wise, Gus Poyet and Andrew Beasley had joined Leeds United as manager, assistant manager and goalkeeping coach respectively.

Leeds struggled under Wise and the Yorkshire club were relegated with one game remaining, when the Football League gave the club a 10-point penalty for going into administration. Leeds finished bottom of the league and they were relegated into the third tier for the first time in their history. Nonetheless, chairman Ken Bates retained Wise for the 2007-08 season. Leeds made an excellent start to the season, winning their first 7 league games and Wise was named as manager of the month for both August and September. However, on 29 October 2007, Poyet left Leeds to become Juande Ramos's assistant at Tottenham Hotspur. Three days later, Wise's ex-manager at Wimbledon, Dave Bassett, became his number two.

Wise left the club on 28 January 2008 in a surprise move to take up a role at Newcastle United as a '"football-related" executive director'. Wise was tasked with helping identify young players for approval by first team manager Kevin Keegan. The departure of Keegan from the club, on 4 September, saw Wise and club owner Ashley come under mounting pressure from the club's supporters to quit, with Keegan, clearly unhappy with the management structure at the club, stating "It's my opinion that a manager must have the right to manage and that clubs should not impose upon any manager any player that he does not want". Wise further angered Newcastle United fans when he was shown often attending Chelsea home games (and the FA Cup Final). Later, it was revealed he spent the vital last day of the 2009 season in Dubai celebrating his wife's birthday, showing a surprising disinterest in the outcome of a club in which he had very recently been inolved. On 1 April 2009, following the appointment of Alan Shearer as manager on an interim basis, Newcastle released a statement that Wise had left his role as Executive Director of Football with immediate effect. The club also confirmed that there were no plans to replace Wise. Keegan later won an arbitration ruling in relation to his departure from the club, with Wise admitting that the affair had had a damaging effect on his career.


Wise played at international level for much of his career, representing England over a period of ten years. Wise won 21 caps and scored once, on his debut against Turkey on 1 May 1991. He was in the national squad for Euro 2000 and played in all three group games, having missed out on selection for Euro 96 and the 1998 World Cup.


See also: List of Dennis Wise goals
Season Prem FA Cup League Cup Europe Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
1990–91 33 10 1 0 7 2 0 0 1 1 42 13
1991–92 38 10 4 2 2 1 0 0 4 1 48 14
1992–93 27 3 0 0 5 1 0 0 0 0 32 4
1993–94 35 4 4 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 41 6
1994–95 19 6 2 0 3 0 5 1 0 0 29 7
1995–96 35 7 7 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 44 8
1996–97 31 3 7 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 40 6
1997–98 26 3 0 0 4 0 9 0 1 0 40 3
1998–99 22 0 5 1 2 0 8 1 0 0 37 2
1999–00 30 4 5 2 0 0 15 4 0 0 50 10
2000–01 36 3 3 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 42 3
Total 332 53 38 9 30 6 38 6 7 2 445 76

Career honours


FA Cup:

FA Charity Shield:


FA Cup:

League Cup:

FA Charity Shield:

UEFA Cup Winners' Cup:

UEFA Super Cup:


FA Cup:


Player of the Year
1967: Bonetti | 1968: Cooke | 1969: Webb | 1970: Hollins | 1971: Hollins | 1972: Webb | 1973: Osgood | 1974: Locke
1975: Cooke | 1976: Wilkins | 1977: Wilkins | 1978: Droy | 1979: Langley | 1980: Walker | 1981: Borota | 1982: Fillery
1983: Jones | 1984: Nevin | 1985: Speedie | 1986: Niedzwiecki | 1987: Nevin | 1988: Dorigo | 1989: Roberts
1990: Monkou | 1991: Townsend | 1992: Elliott | 1993: Sinclair | 1994: Clarke | 1995: Johnsen | 1996: Gullit
1997: Hughes | 1998: Wise | 1999: Zola | 2000: Wise | 2001: Terry | 2002: Cudicini | 2003: Zola | 2004: Lampard
2005: Lampard | 2006: Terry | 2007: Essien | 2008: J.Cole | 2009: Lampard | 2010: Drogba | 2011: Čech | 2012: Mata
2013: Mata | 2014: Hazard
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