Tommy Baldwin: Chelsea legend dies aged 78 as tributes pour in for ex-footballer

Chelsea paid tribute to their former player, who was part of the team that defeated Real Madrid in the 1971 European Cup Winners' Cup final
Chelsea legend Tommy Baldwin has died at the age of 78. (Credit: Evening Standard/Getty Images)Chelsea legend Tommy Baldwin has died at the age of 78. (Credit: Evening Standard/Getty Images)
Chelsea legend Tommy Baldwin has died at the age of 78. (Credit: Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Former footballer and Chelsea legend Tommy Baldwin has died at the age of 78.

Baldwin was famed for his role in some of the London club's most famous wins, including the triumph over Leeds in the 1970 FA Cup final and the win over Real Madrid in the 1971 European Cup Winners' Cup final. Throughout his career, Baldwin also played for Manchester United, Arsenal and Brentford.

Chelsea Football Club has led the tributes to the club's former player. A statement read: "It is with enormous sadness that Chelsea Football Club announces the passing today at the age of 78 of our former forward Tommy Baldwin, following a long illness. We send our heartfelt condolences to Tommy’s family and friends."

Chelsea Supporters' Trust added: "We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Tommy Baldwin. The thoughts of the CST board and all our members around the world are with Tommy's family at this difficult time."

The Gateshead-born footballer began his career at Arsenal before moving across the capital to Stamford Bridge. He joined Chelsea in 1966, making 187 appearances until his departure in 1974.

During his time at Stamford Bridge, Baldwin garnered the nickname "The Sponge" due to his ability to hold the ball under pressure, but the nickname was actually allegedly coined due to his ability to drink huge amounts of alcohol with his teammates. Baldwin once jokingly remarked: "It did originally come from allegedly having a sponge in my stomach!"

He then joined Millwall and then Manchester United, before making the move to the US to play for Seattle Sounders. In 1977, Baldwin returned to the UK, ending his playing career with a year-long stint at Brentford.

Baldwin never played for England at senior level but did represent his country at youth level. He was capped twice in 1968.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.