• Champions League

Mourinho: Drogba will return to Chelsea

ESPN staff
March 18, 2014
Mourinho: Drogba will return

Jose Mourinho has described Didier Drogba as "one of the most important players in the history" of Chelsea and tipped the striker to return to the club "one day".

Drogba will play at Stamford Bridge for the first time since leaving the club in 2012 when Galatasaray take on Chelsea in their Champions League last-16 second leg on Tuesday.

The Ivory Coast striker won 10 major trophies in eight years with the club, scoring the winning penalty in the 2012 Champions League final with his last kick of a ball for the club.

'I will move back to London'

Didier Drogba was not always happy in London © PA Photos
  • Didier Drogba insists he will move back to London once his career has come to an end.
  • Jose Mourinho may hope to bring the striker back to Chelsea sooner but, speaking to French newspaper L'Equipe, Drogba said: "I will live there after my career.
  • "My children have grown up in London, they like it there. And to think, at the start, I got depressed when I saw the grey sky, the night come in early, the drizzle."
  • Drogba's love affair with Chelsea brought three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the a Champions League triumph - in which he scored the winning penalty - before he departed for pastures new. However, it wasn't always a happy affair for the 36-year-old.
  • "The first two seasons, I was always saying: 'I'm sick of this, I can't settle, I want to leave'. In the end, I stuck at it, and it brought all of this," Drogba said. "At the start, I had doubts, because I didn't really feel the fans behind me.
  • "I hadn't won them over. Moreover, there was always a new striker arriving. After those difficulties, I made progress physically, and I said to myself: 'Give everything, go to the end of your contract, and if you have to leave, leave.' In the end, I extended my contract and built a great relationship with the fans."

"I don't think it's a moment to answer that," Mourinho said when asked about Drogba's future. "He's a Galatasaray player. We know he's a free agent and finishes his contract at the end of the season, but I don't think it's the right moment to think about it.

"It has to happen one day. When, I don't know. As a player, as a coach, as an ambassador, next year, in four or five years, or 10 years, I don't know. But when a person represents so much to a club and the club represents so much to a person, as is the case, I think he has to be welcomed back.

"Undoubtedly, he's one of the most important players in the history of this club. That's not a doubt. We all, Chelsea supporters, agree with that. We don't say the most important one because it's not fair for other people who were in the same level or in the same generation.

"But, for sure, he was one of the most important players in the history of our club. Is he the same player at 36 that he was at 26? I think nobody is. But he's one of the best strikers in the world. That's for sure."

Drogba is relishing the prospect of returning to Stamford Bridge and admitted it would be an "emotional" night for him personally.

"I'm really happy to come back and see familiar faces and it's good," Drogba said. "It won't be difficult to play. It's a big game, a big competition and it means a lot to my team, so I will find a way to play it.

"It's very difficult to play against Chelsea but it will not be difficult for me to put myself into the competition. I belong to Galatasaray and I need to be professional.

"Of course there will be emotions, like the first leg, when I saw my ex-teammates and the Chelsea fans in the stadium. It was special but then there was the game and it was tough, high intensity and it think it will be the same tomorrow."

Asked whether he would celebrate should he score against his former club, Drogba said: "With all the respect I have for this club, for the fans and the players, I might not celebrate but if we win I will be happy."

Gary Cahill, meanwhile, said he would not be offended if Drogba celebrated. He said: "I'm sure he is in two minds, probably with the feeling he has for the club. If he celebrated a goal, it wouldn't offend me personally.

"To score a goal in a Champions League game is a great thing. Hopefully he doesn't. But he has the fans and the club to think about. Knowing Didier, he'd maybe not do that if he did score. Hopefully he won't score."

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