Dennis Wise can still remember the moment, with pin-sharp clarity, when Chelsea finally emerged as a modern force in English football. It was the FA Cup final in 1997, when Chelsea were pitted against Middlesbrough, and it took only one glance at the figures seated next to him in the Wembley dressing room for Wise to realise that a new era was loming. "When you look around and see Robbie Di Matteo, Franco [Zola] and Luca [Gianluca Vialli] you kind of know you’re going to win it," he says. "I was in the 1994 final with Chelsea as well. It was against Manchester United and before the match I looked around the dressing room and, with no disrespect to the players at that time, I thought we had just a chance. We lost 4-0 and I’ve never watched the video back. But '97 felt different and it was that game that started us off." Wise was Chelsea’s captain, with his combative display and Roberto Di Matteo's thunderbolt after 42 seconds inspiring the club to their first trophy in 26 years. A second FA Cup, a League Cup, the Uefa Cup Winners' Cup and a Super Cup followed in a glorious period of success over three years - a spell which set the club on the path to becoming one of the dominant forces in European football. And at the heart of it all was Wise - a diminutive but spiky presence in central midfield, adding a dash of the spirit that flowed through his previous club, Wimbledon, to a dressing room that was, by 1997, a cosmopolitan place. "When I first turned up in 1990 we were happy to finish mid-table, stay out of a relegation battle and see how we got on in a cup," Wise says. "The change came when Glenn Hoddle came in and signed Ruud Gullit and Mark Hughes. As soon as they turned up, it all changed. You understand it as a player, you’re thinking, ‘wow’, they’ve come here to win."