Didier Drogba admitted that Chelsea will always hold a special place in his heart but he warned his former club that he wants to progress to the next stage and that he still feels in great shape, despite turning 36 next month. Drogba famously sealed a fantastic eight-year stint with Chelsea by scoring the winning penalty in the 2012 UEFA Champions League final, and is now preparing to host his former club with Galatasaray in the Champions League Round of 16 first-leg in Istanbul on Wednesday.
"After the draw [Chelsea boss] Jose [Mourinho] texted me to say, 'it's your moment, enjoy it'," said Drogba. "People know how much I love the club and the fans. I will still be happy to score because I also want to qualify for the next round. But you have to show respect. I can't forget what I've done there and all the memories of the club. Chelsea will always have a special place in my heart. And in my life."
Regarding his age, Drogba said: "It's impossible to stop time but it's possible, with your intelligence on the pitch and your experience, to play at a high level even for two or three more years,” the Ivory Coast international said, adding: “Your team-mates will know you are not the same, like 10 or 15 years before, and they have to support you. It also depends on the desire to play. I feel young. I want to play even when it's a friendly. I still feel like a kid running after the ball. I want to play as much as I can. It's not only about your physique, it's also about the confidence the manager gives you. When you have the confidence of the manager, believe me, you can do great things."
Drogba reiterated that he still has a special relationship with former coach Mourinho. "I learned so much working with Jose. He's one of the best, if not the best, of all the managers I've worked with. He educated us to hate losing. Sometimes, in training, you could play three or four games of five minutes without a goal. It shows you the intensity of training."