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16 Dec A Brighton English Premier League
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Didier Drogba: Home and Away


This article was originally published on the official Chelsea website.

The Chelsea legend talks about big European games, starting with his first Champions League game for the Blues against Paris Saint-Germain in 2004.

‘I used to play for Marseille and the rivalry is beyond what you could think,’ Drogba tells the official Chelsea website.

‘The atmosphere was hostile towards me. During the warm-up they were shouting obscenities. I knew that I was going to score, I knew it, so when I scored I said, ‘Come on Marseille, come on Marseille!’ and they went mad. It was nice, a good feeling. Scoring two in Paris, they lost. I was very, very happy.’

After storming through the group matches, Chelsea set up a tie against Barcelona.

‘The Nou Camp is a stadium that was good to us in general,’ Drogba remembers.

‘We only lost once, we always scored and the only game we didn’t it was 0-0 under Guus Hiddink. The atmosphere is nice and it was always good to play there. We were so far from our fans there. It was like you were alone in front of 90,000 people.

‘You had to survive, and we survived that night. The celebrations were good even if we were far from the fans. I went to show them the appreciation because they travelled a long way and went to support us.’

But what other European fixtures does he remember most fondly?

‘Liverpool,’ Drogba says. ‘I really enjoyed going there and playing there. We played them in the Champions League so many times.

‘You knew that it was going to be tough, a big game, a difficult game. They were never games you won or lost three or four nil, it was always tight, sometimes they won without goals…they were really good battles. Anfield is definitely one of the best stadiums to play at.’

What does the striker recall about the build up to European games?

‘When you are a team like we were with so many big players, even playing away in the Champions League you had to win. A draw would be a bad result in the group stage. Lampard, Terry, Petr Cech, Ballack, Essien, Kalou, Malouda, all these guys. To draw away was a bad game. You couldn’t drop the standard. Every time you had to prove you were the best, and that was the mentality we had. We lost some points in away games but not many.

‘It was nice to see them travelling,’ Drogba adds of the fans who follow the Blues abroad.

‘We had some nights where we came back at 2am. We would see them at the airport taking off at the same time as us, and it was good to see them and to speak with them sometimes. When we were down they would be like, “It’s okay, Saturday is another game”, and when we came back to the Bridge we would win for them.’

Of course, the final in 2012 is important to Drogba.

‘I went to give them the cup but I didn’t know if I would get it back!’ Drogba says of the fans.

‘Just before kick-off, when we came up the stairs and entered the stadium, we could see red in front of us and Bayern Munich fans to the right of us. As we walked and turned we could see blue behind the other goal, and we said, “We are not alone”.

‘We were playing in their city, their stadium, their home, and we had to do something special there. Again, adversity. We said, “Today we are not losing”, but when they scored seven minutes before the end…”Oh, maybe we will!”

‘But after, when I walked towards the goal to take the penalty, I knew we had won. Petr Cech had saved three penalties in total. The job had already been done.’