Chelsea's longest-serving player concedes defeat after zero appearances in eight years

What do you mean you've never heard of Matej Delac? 

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The 25-year-old signed a five-year contract with Chelsea in September 2009, but has been constantly loaned out due to work permit issues stopping him from playing in England.

Delac has never been registered to Chelsea's Premier League squad, therefore, and failed to make a competitive appearance for the west London club.

His latest loan spell has taken him to Belgium's Royal Excel Mouscron – but now the former Croatia U21 international has finally conceded that the time is right to explore new permanent options.

"Yes, soon will come a time I'll have to leave Chelsea," he told SportSport. "Many people ask me if I regret coming to Chelsea so young, and not joining some smaller club, but I feel no regret.

"Your career can always be better, but I am 25 and have been through so much, met many coaches, players, gained experience.

"The problem was not my quality. Chelsea believed in me, extended my contract several times, but the problem was always work permit."

Even with all the setbacks, Delac is grateful to Chelsea for the opportunity.

He added: “Chelsea had a plan for my career, but you can't plan some things.

“As I arrived aged 18, it seemed like some movie... I can’t describe that feeling.

"I will remember the greatness of Chelsea; they raised me and taught me human and football manners. And of course my first game in Ljubljana vs Olimpija, when I played with Fabregas and Costa."

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