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Drogba looking forward to warm reception at Chelsea

Updated: 2014-03-18 07:36
By Reuters in London ( China Daily)

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 its 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 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.

"It is the club where I experienced everything," Drogba told the UEFA website. "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.

"It will be great to see them again. I am looking forward to it."

Mourinho brought Drogba to Stamford Bridge from Olympique Marseille and the pair clearly share a special bond.

"When Chelsea was 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 was capable of going to the ends of the earth for Jose."

Drogba's successor as the leader of the Chelsea attack, Fernando Torres, gave his side the lead in the first half in Istanbul.

Galatasaray was outplayed in the opening period but it forced Mourinho's men on to the defensive in the second half and earned a deserved draw thanks to an equalizer from Aurelien Chedjou.

The Turkish team is the underdog, but Chelsea must focus quickly after Saturday's meltdown at Aston Villa.

The English Premier League leader lost 1-0, had Brazil midfielders Willian and Ramires red-carded and Mourinho was also sent from the dugout in the closing stages.

(China Daily 03/18/2014 page23)