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Carlo Cudicini came into Stamford Bridge yesterday and sat down with managing director Trevor Birch in order to put his signature on a five year contract with Chelsea.

Cudicini, who signed on a year’s loan in 1999, and joined more permanently on a three year contract in 2000 for a fee of just £160,000, is now potentially a Chelsea player until 2007.

“I want to thank the club, the chairman, and Mr Birch,” he told Chelsea TV, “because I think signing this contract, they show me they trust me.

“It was an easy decision, since I came here three years ago it has been a good time for me. I like the club, I like the supporters, I like London.”

Trevor Birch described him in shining terms. “We think he’s one of the best goalkeepers in the world.”

While Carlo dismissed the idea of playing for Italy due to his continued residence in England and the apparent policy of the Italians to overlook overseas players, Trevor had no doubts that Carlo should be part of the Italian set-up.

“He should be already. We think he’s the best, and hopefully he’ll prove that to the Italian manager.”

Last season Carlo played 41 games, one as substitute, and kept goal throughout the fantastic run when Chelsea conceded just one goal in eight matches. He saved three of four penalties he faced during the season, and is believed to be a strong contender for the Official Player of the Year award.

The re-signing of Carlo Cudicini is the second piece of summer recruitment for Trevor Birch following the Bosman signing of Enrique De Lucas from Espagnyol.

:) :) :) :)
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