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how activism, yoga and a superyacht filled the void left by Chelsea

Chelsea, with financial fair play sanctions thrust upon them, are moving on too, embarking on a new era of youthful vigour, if little genuine title ambition. Even ex-wife Dasha Zhukova, at his side for the latter Chelsea glory days before divorcing him in 2017, last week married another billionaire tycoon.

As everyone else evolves, the 52-year-old once again finds himself cast in the role of outsider – a citizen of nowhere, to use one of May’s more memorable phrases.

In fact, he took Israeli citizenship in 2017, but is spending the vast majority of his time – both work and play – in Russia again. He travelled last month to the Black Sea resort of Gelendzhik for a meeting with the governor of Krasnodar, Veniamin Kondratyev. It was a surprise sighting for a man so desperate to ditch his tag as “the Kremlin’s pet oligarch”.

Business is booming, as it has been pretty much since Abramovich’s early twenties. He left school at 16, initially working as a mechanic before a stint in the Red Army, and then beginning his business career selling plastic ducks. It was the collapse of the Soviet Union that somehow sprang the quiet boy with the cherubic smile into the billionaire big time.


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