By Martyn Herman
Jose Mourinho hopes Chelsea are paired with Turkish club Galatasaray in Monday’s draw for the Champions League last 16 so that ‘King Didier’ can return to Stamford Bridge.
Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba is still worshipped by Chelsea fans for his starring role in the club’s Champions League triumph against Bayern Munich in 2012 when he scored the winning penalty in a nerve-jangling shoot-out.
After a short spell in China, veteran Drogba is now terrorising Europe’s best defences in the colours of Galatasaray and Mourinho would be more than happy if he gets the chance to return to his old hunting ground.
“He deserves a reception here, even better, he deserves it even more than me,” Mourinho, who himself was welcomed with open arms back to Chelsea this year, told reporters after a routine 1-0 win over Steaua Bucharest on Wednesday confirmed his side as winners of Group E.
“He deserves to get what I got against Hull City (in my first game back in charge this season). He deserves double ot three times that. I know what I felt and I think he deserves that.
“So yes Galatasaray is difficult, very difficult but I would like Didier to be back here and to feel what I felt.”
Drogba, who also scored the equaliser against Bayern in Munich that night, is Chelsea’s record scorer in Europe with 34 goals in 69 games and Mourinho still holds him in high esteem after the Ivorian’s goals helped him load the club’s trophy cabinet with silverware between 2004-07.
Chelsea could be drawn against Galatasaray, Zenit St Petersburg or a misfiring Milan in the last 16, rather than Real Madrid, Barcelona or holders Bayern Munich, but Mourinho said that whoever they get it would be difficult.
“There are the champions of Russia, a German side in Bayer Leverkusen and the Turkish champions with King Didier,” Mourinho said, before turning his thoughts to more immediate challenges.
“We have to forget the Champions League now,” he said.
“Until it starts again in February, March, we have to work to improve the team and get results in the English competitions.”