Didier Drogba has reflected on life at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, as the two prepare to meet tonight in Real Madrid’s clash with Galatasaray.
The duo, who worked together for three years at Stamford Bridge, will be reunited as Mourinho’s Madrid host Drogba’s Galatasaray in the Champions League quarter-final first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Speaking to The Guardian in an interview published today, the 35-year-old reflected back to his time under the Portuguese tactician, beginning with the end, when Mourinho left Chelsea in 2007.
“Emotionally it was difficult for me. I did not understand. My reaction was I want to go – he has left, I want to go, everything is finished,” began the Ivory Coast international.
“I was in this mood. But then I was still under contract and I always said that as long as I was wearing the Chelsea shirt I will always give my best, no matter what. I will always give my best. For two weeks it was very difficult.
“All the players who were there at that time, we still have that winning mentality. It is something you do not lose.
“It was unique, in a way, but it is like when you learn how to ride a bike, even if you do not do it for years, when you find a new bike, you don't forget. That's why Jose needs to come back.”
Mourinho and Drogba were seen to have a close relationship at Chelsea.
“People say Mourinho liked me, I was his son. But in fact, if I was not performing, then I did not play. That is the good thing with him. Even if he likes you outside football, if you do not perform on the pitch, you do not play.
“That is really what is his signature. You have to perform, you have to be the best. It is only business. I think we have a good understanding, we don't have to talk every day to know what we think about each other. After the draw I text him and have seen him at one game since, that's it.
“We call him daddy. I don't know about all of us but he did a lot of things for me during that moment where I had a lot of critics. He was supporting me and helping me. He signed me for Chelsea and did everything.
“He knows how to win and how to create the mentality. For example, when Barcelona were dominating the Spanish League and all the Clasicos against Real Madrid, he lost 5-0 at the Camp Nou but he knew that one day they would take over and he would change it, and that's what is happening now.
“I think Barcelona now are unplayable so for him to win the league last year was something great, unbelievable I think.
“He knows how to create this winning mentality. During a game a player could score two goals but he will go to one midfielder or one central defender and say, ‘For me, you were man of the match’.
“You know if you scored two goals that you had a good performance but to score those goals somebody had to work behind for you not to concede.”