Chelsea’s cosmopolitan squad may be bursting at the seams with superstars – but few can rival the international career of Scarborough striker Clint Marcelle.
The Trinidad and Tobago striker has been capped an amazing 95 times for his country and is unfazed by the prospect of Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round clash with Claudio Ranieri’s Blues.
Marcelle made his international debut against Sweden at the age of just 15 – when Damien Duff and Adrian Mutu were just four years old.
Just when he thought his extraordinary career was drawing to a close Marcelle landed a short-term contract with the Seadogs – and a final shot at the big time.
“This proves that you can never tell what is going to happen in football,” he said.
“I was playing at Harrogate Town and now I’m at Scarborough and we’re getting ready to play Chelsea. We can’t wait for all their superstars to come to town.”
Marcelle, 35, started this season on the soccer scrap-heap after leaving Third Division Darlington and trawling through short spells with Harrogate and Hucknall Town.
It was a far cry from his international prime when he lined up at intimidating venues like the Azteca Stadium in Mexico and the Los Angeles Coliseum.
“I was part of a great team alongside Dwight Yorke and Shaka Hislop, and we had loads of matches against teams like Mexico and the US,” he said.
“Playing in Mexico City was something else. It seemed like the whole of Mexico would come out to see them play.”
Marcelle also tasted the big time in Europe with Portuguese side Felgueiras when he starred against teams like Benfica and FC Porto.
But he rates his 1996 move to Barnsley as the best of his career when he caught the Tykes steaming towards an unlikely place in the Premiership.
“Playing for Barnsley was an absolute delight and a great pleasure, and I absolutely love that club,” he said.
“Joining Barnsley and then immediately winning promotion and getting into the Premiership was an unbelievable highlight.”
But Marcelle hardly needs reminding of his first home game at Oakwell in 1997 – when Chelsea came to town and routed Danny Wilson’s men 6-0.
“Gianluca Vialli was their manager, and they were still a quality squad in those days,” he remembers.
“It was an important lesson for us to learn so early into our season in the Premiership.”
Marcelle left Barnsley in 1999 and had short spells at Scunthorpe and Hull before an ill-fated period at Feethams had him casting his eyes back across the Atlantic.
But Boro boss Russell Slade gambled on Marcelle adding experience to his young squad and handed him a contract until the end of the season.
Now the Trinidadian star is relishing a return to the big time which he knows so well.
“All the lads are looking forward to it. Realistically we don’t stand a chance of getting into the next round – but we just want to get out and play,” he said.
“Any team playing at home fancies its chances, and we will have a capacity crowd to support us.
“If we get them turned over early you never know what might end up happening.”