LONDON — Chelsea will need to rise above the misty-eyed nostalgia surrounding Didier Drogba’s return to Stamford Bridge as it looks to secure a place in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals Tuesday.
Drogba scored 157 goals in eight trophy-laden years at Chelsea and forever will be remembered for converting the penalty that won the London club the Champions League in the 2012 final against Bayern Munich.
Two years later, though, he will pose the biggest danger to Chelsea as part of a Galatasaray team that is tied at 1-1 with the Premier League leaders after the first leg of the last 16.
It is set to be an emotional night as the Stamford Bridge faithful welcome back one of its favorite sons. And the man himself doesn’t know how he’ll cope.
“First of all, I was happy to play against my ex-club, against my friends. But at the same time it is a very special moment because I do not know what my reaction will be,” the Ivory Coast striker told UEFA.com. “You know that I spent eight years at Chelsea, so I really don’t know, I am quite apprehensive about it.”
Drogba’s return also evokes memories of when Chelsea had a regular scorer of goals up front. This season, strikers Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba have all struggled to find the net, much to manager Jose Mourinho’s frustration.
“With all the respect I have for Chelsea and the fans, if I score I might not celebrate,” Drogba said Monday, “but if we win I’ll be happy.”