FROM Stamford Bridge steward to Chelsea managers' chief confidante, Gary Staker has had one of the most remarkable rises in West London.
Barring die-hard Blues supporters, Staker will be an unknown name for most football fans— but his face has grown increasingly familiar.
12 Chelsea stalwart Gary Staker's time at the club looks to be coming to an endCredit: PA:Press Association
12 Staker acting as translator for Gianluca Vialli as then Chelsea owner Ken Bates unveiled him as coachCredit: PA:Press Association
Behind every Chelsea boss over the past 20 years, from Gianluca Vialli to Maurizio Sarri, stood Staker peering through the Stamford Bridge tunnel.
Not for much longer, though.
According to The Times, club stalwart Staker, whose official title is player liaison officer, has been told Chelsea want to move him away from the first-team.
He has been offered a new role looking after club ambassadors, including former players Carlo Cudicini, Tore Andre Flo and Paulo Ferreira.
But Staker is yet to accept the position which has cast doubt over his future at Chelsea, which goes back more than 25 years.
A boyhood Blues fan, Staker's first association at the club was in the mid-1990s as a match-day steward in the tunnel.
It was from this position that he mingled with senior staff members and built life-long relationships.
Vialli's appointment as player-coach in 1998 saw Staker take his first step up at Stamford Bridge.
Having family in north Italy, Staker speaks fluent Italian and translated as former owner Ken Bates unveiled Vialli as the club's new coach.
12 Bates presents Staker with a prize at the club's Christmas party in 2001Credit: Getty – Contributor
12 Staker's real rise at Stamford Bridge came while working with Claudio RanieriCredit: AFP
But it was Vialli's successor who saw Staker become a key figure at the London club.
Staker began as Claudio Ranieri's translator which led to one of his most hilarious moments at the club.
The British public were given their first sight of Ranieri when he appeared on Match of the Day giving a long, passionate answer about his team's performance.
When the camera turned to a flustered Staker for the translation, he shrugged and said: "It was a game of two halves."
But the two men ended up forming a close bond.
"Gary, for me, was my guardian angel," Ranieri said in 2015. "He is still there. Gary is fantastic."
The fond memories stretched back to a day in May 2004 when Ranieri's Chelsea had just beaten Leeds.
It was clear new owner Roman Abramovich's wooing of Jose Mourinho had been a success and Ranieri's time was up.
Staker, along with his friend John Terry and then captain Marcel Desailly, arranged for the Blues players to form a guard of honour after the game.
"Desailly and Terry called all their team-mates together because they knew my job had finished there," Ranieri said.
"Gary, who is an amazing man, called me to the centre of the pitch and the players made the guard of honour so when I turned around I saw, it was amazing."
When Mourinho came along, Staker got moved into a new role as player liaison officer and developed a strong bond with Terry and Didier Drogba.
12 Jose Mourinho spoke of Staker as a 'big friend' after working together twiceCredit: AP:Associated Press
12 Staker lifts the FA Cup with Chelsea legend and then coach Ray Wilkins in 2010
12 Staker has been working at Chelsea for 20 years while managers, including Guus Hiddink, have come and goneCredit: Reuters
12 Staker formed a close bond with former Chelsea captain John TerryCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Rob Beasley's explosive 2016 book 'Jose Mourinho: Up Close and Personal' detailed that Staker was at Mourinho's side when he collapsed in a hotel lobby during Chelsea's 2013 pre-season tour of the USA.
Like Ranieri, Staker formed a strong bond with Mourinho.
So much so that the Portuguese coach attended Staker's dad's funeral the day before he was sacked in his second stint at Chelsea, in 2015.
A month earlier, Mourinho had dedicated a victory over Norwich to Staker who had been absent due to his dad's death.
“I would like personally to dedicate this victory to somebody who is so close to us," he said.
“Gary Staker lost his dad yesterday and couldn’t be with us today. My thoughts are with a big friend from all of us.”
Staker's role as player liaison officer included assisting players with their needs, which includes locating digs, finding schools for their kids and helping set up bills.
12 Staker poses with Eden Hazard at the PFA awards in 2016Credit: PA:Press Association
12 Staker acted as a player liaison officer helping players like Pierluigi Casiraghi settle at ChelseaCredit: PA:Press Association
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And when Antonio Conte emerged as Chelsea's top target for coach in 2016, Staker was spotted watching Italy with Conte's wife Elisabetta and agent and brother Danielle.
Staker became a piece of the furniture at Chelsea but this summer's revamp has included a clear out.
While new boss Frank Lampard is not believed to be behind the decision, the new look Chelsea has had a complete transformation.
12 Staker went to Italy when Chelsea were looking to make Antonio Conte managerCredit: Alessandro Alciato
12 Staker on pre-season tour in 2016 with then assistant Steve Holland, Antonio Conte and Carlo CudiciniCredit: Getty Images – Getty