I don’t know about you, but Dennis Wise is not someone I’d want to go up against in a 50-50. The former Chelsea and Wimbledon hardman was the ultimate midfield battler in his playing days, and I mean that in the nicest possible way.
For all the talk of Wise being a hothead, his Premier League record actually makes for decent reading. Appearances: 278. Goals: 34. Assists: 39. That’s not too bad for someone whose career is best remembered for him crunching opposition players in half.
In this article, let’s kick off the First Print Football series with a look at 10 things you might not know about the three-time FA Cup winner.
10. Who did Dennis Wise play for?
It’s easy to forget that Wise worked his way down the divisions towards the end of his football career.
In total, he represented seven clubs as a player between 1985 and 2006: Wimbledon, Grebbestads IF (loan), Chelsea, Leicester City, Millwall, Southampton, and Coventry City. You can add Swindon Town to that list if you like, but he never put himself on the pitch during his five-month stint as player-manager.
Wise achieved huge success at Wimbledon, winning the FA Cup in 1988 as a member of the infamous Crazy Gang. He lifted the FA Cup another two times at Chelsea, where he also won the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and League Cup in 1998.
9. Which teams did Dennis Wise manage?
Looking back, I think Wise could have achieved way more as a manager had he not packed in his touchline duties for an executive role at Newcastle.
Between 2003 and 2008, Wise managed Millwall, Swindon Town and Leeds United. His biggest managerial achievement undoubtedly came in 2004 when he led Millwall to the FA Cup final, where they were soundly beaten 3-0 by Manchester United.
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Swindon and Leeds were challenging for the League Two and League One titles, respectively, before his sudden mid-season departures. Had he stayed, I think both teams would have won the league.
8. What is Dennis Wise doing now?
After a decade away from football, Wise surprisingly returned to the game in 2019. He now works as the CEO of Como 1907.
The Italian club rose from Serie D to Serie B in the space of just three years under Wise’s watchful eye.
In 2022, they snapped up their biggest marquee signing to date, the one and only Cesc Fabregas, on a two-year deal. Another Premier League legend, Thierry Henry, is also involved with Como 1907 as a board member.
This Mail on Sunday interview with Wise is worth a read if you want to know more about Como’s plans for the future.
7. What happened when Dennis Wise was on I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here?
Teeny tiny little Dennis appeared on hit ITV show I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! in 2017. Made in Chelsea’s Georgia Toffolo, aka Toff, was crowned Queen of the Jungle that year, but I honestly think our man in question was the star of the series.
Wise lasted 19 days on I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!, finishing in sixth place. He was joined in the Aussie outback by 11 other celebs, including boxer Amir Khan and Jamie Vardy’s wife Rebekah.
I’m a Celeb host Declan Donnelly mocked Wise’s height every night, often referring to him as “teeny tiny little Dennis” and “a very small man”. The segments were genuinely hilarious and all in good fun.
6. Dennis Wise’s height: How tall is the football legend?
At 5ft 6in (168cm), Wise is only three inches shorter than the average man in the UK. But that fact didn’t stop Dec, who is also 5ft 6in, from cracking dozens of jokes at the Chelsea great’s expense.
Wise seemed to take the mocking well. At least I guess he did because he went on to appear on another ITV show, Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, a few months later.
The video below shows a compilation of Dec’s height jokes from throughout the series.
5. What number did Dennis Wise wear for Chelsea?
English football tradition states that central midfielders should wear number four or number eight. Although Wise played that position for most of his career, he never wore eight at club level and only adorned four for England and Southampton.
At Chelsea, Wise briefly wore the number seven before switching to 11 – the same number he had at Wimbledon. The famous number 11 shirt was later worn at Chelsea by Didier Drogba.
Wise also played with the number 11 on his back at Leicester, but he had to resort to wearing 19 at Millwall and 25 at Coventry.
4. What do Chelsea fans sing about Dennis Wise?
On October 26, 1999, Wise cemented his status as a Chelsea legend by scoring an important equaliser against AC Milan at the San Siro. Roberto Di Matteo launched a long pass over the Milan defence, which contained Paolo Maldini, and Wise was there to control with his right foot and finish with his left.
The goal led to the birth of this Chelsea song: “Oh Dennis Wise, he scored a f*****g great goal, in the San Siro, with 10 minutes to go…”
There was actually 13 minutes to go plus stoppage time, but I guess that doesn’t have the same ring to it. The match finished 1-1 and Chelsea ended up winning the group ahead of Hertha Berlin, Galatasaray and Milan.
3. What is Dennis Wise’s England record?
Wise’s England career couldn’t have got off to a better start. In 1991, he scored the only goal of the game on his debut as the Three Lions beat Turkey in a Euro 1992 qualifier.
In total, Wise made 21 England appearances between 1991 and 2000, with his only goal coming against Turkey. His last match for his country took place in a goalless draw against Finland during qualification for the 2002 World Cup.
It’s a little surprising that Wise didn’t earn more caps, especially in the 1990s. He only became an England regular under Kevin Keegan at Euro 2000, where he featured in all three group games.
2. How many red cards did Dennis Wise get?
According to Transfermarkt, Wise received nine red cards in competitive matches during his 21-year playing career. He was famously sent off four times in 1998-99, meaning he missed 14 matches that season through suspension.
His dismissal in an FA Cup match against Oxford United in 1999 prompted one of his own teammates to speak out.
“I could not believe Dennis did it,” former Chelsea defender Dan Petrescu was quoted as saying by The Guardian. “Even if the ball was going in it didn’t really matter as we were already 4-1 up with 15 minutes to go. All the lads were disappointed afterwards even though we had won the game.”
1. What happened with John Terry at Chelsea?
John Terry wasn’t always Chelsea’s captain, leader, legend. During his early first-team days, Dennis Wise taught the Stamford Bridge icon a harsh lesson about his lavish lifestyle off the pitch.
Terry appeared on The Footballer’s Guide to Football podcast with Carlton Cole and Marlon Harewood in 2020. The former England captain told a story about the time he bought an expensive car at the age of 19 after securing a Champions League bonus. He drove the car into training, where he was confronted by his furious teammate.
Wise grabbed Terry by the throat in front of everyone and said, “Who do you think you are? Go and take the car back.” JT returned the car and later thanked Wise for trying to keep him grounded.