Former Chelsea great Didier Drogba does not know how he will react when he returns to Stamford Bridge with his Galatasaray team on Tuesday for their Champions League last-16 second leg, the Ivorian striker said.
Drogba won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups and, most memorably, the 2012 Champions League when his penalty in the shootout clinched victory for the Londoners against Bayern Munich in the final at the Allianz Arena.
He scored 157 goals in 341 appearances for Chelsea between 2004-12 and was voted the greatest player in the club’s history.
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“It is the club where I experienced everything,” Drogba told the UEFA website (www.uefa.com). “I experienced the highest level, big games – it allowed me to get closer to the best players in the world.
“It is a very special moment because I do not know what my reaction will be. I am quite apprehensive about it,” he said of the second leg after the opening match in Istanbul ended in a 1-1 draw.
Jose Mourinho looked close to tears after being given a rapturous welcome by the Stamford Bridge faithful when he returned for his second stint as manager at the start of the season but he believes Drogba deserves even more adulation from the fans. “I think I’m allowed to say that I will receive a warm welcome because I know Chelsea’s fans and our relationship is really special,” said Drogba.
Mourinho brought Drogba to Stamford Bridge from Olympique Marseille and the pair clearly share a special bond.
“When Chelsea were thinking of signing me it was Mourinho who came to see me,” said the 36-year-old forward. “He said, ‘If you want to be a great forward like Thierry Henry or Ruud van Nistelrooy you have to come and play for me.“It’s true that I was a good player in the French League at the time but he made me one of the best in Europe. That’s why I, for Jose, was capable of going to the ends of the earth.”
Drogba’s successor as the leader of the Chelsea attack, Fernando Torres, gave his side the lead in the first half in Istanbul. Galatasaray were outplayed in the opening period but they forced Mourinho’s men on to the back foot in the second half and earned a deserved draw thanks to an equaliser from Aurelien Chedjou.
The Turkish team are the underdogs but Chelsea must clear their heads quickly after Saturday’s meltdown at Aston Villa. they lost 1-0, had Brazil midfielders Willian and Ramires red-carded and Mourinho was also sent from the dugout in the closing stages. Galatasaray warmed up for the trip to Stamford Bridge by drawing 0-0 at Karabukspor on Friday. Roberto Mancini’s side are second in the Turkish championship, five points adrift of leaders Fenerbahce. Drogba believes that if Galatasaray are firing on all cylinders they are capable of knocking Chelsea out.
“If we are focused, if we are well physically, then we can make it difficult for many great teams,” he said.
ISCO MAY START FOR MADRID
Meanwhile, Real Madrid — who have all but sealed a place in the Champions League quarter-finals after their 6-1 first-leg away victory over Schalke — could hand Isco another opportunity to prove his worth in the return on Tuesday.
The playmaker has not been able to hold down a regular place in Carlo Ancelotti’s side since his big-money move from Malaga.
Since then, however, it has not gone according to plan for Isco who has not been able to find a role in Real’s expensively assembled squad. Part of the reason is that after a slow start to the season, the Ancelotti has found success with a 4-3-3 formation that does not ideally suit Isco’s attributes of picking the passes behind the forwards.
Isco was given the chance in midfield against Malaga at the weekend with Angel Di Maria left on the bench as he was only a booking away from a suspension.
Timings: Real Madrid vs Schalke 01:15 am on TEN Sports; Chelsea vs Galatasaray 01:15 am on TEN Action & Ten HD