CATCHING UP WITH BALLACK
Michael Ballack joined the official Chelsea website in Ghana at the weekend, and spent time with us discussing his retirement, Chelsea and the return of Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge.
It is a year now since Ballack ended his career, and the former Germany captain hosted an exhibition match in Leipzig last week to celebrate a glorious career which took in two spells with Bayer Leverkusen, success with Bayern Munich and Chelsea and an outstanding international career, which included participation in World Cup semi-finals and the European Championship final.
Still an occasional visitor to the Bridge, he reported he is enjoying life outside the game, and is in no rush to plan for his next move.
'I always really enjoy coming to Chelsea because I can take a nice trip to London,' Ballack said.
'Stamford Bridge is a fantastic stadium in the city and I know a lot of people there, so I feel always welcome. That's why I come from time to time.
'I'm enjoying my retirement very much. You can imagine if you are a football player training day in day out and travelling a lot, just focused on football, now it is a different life and my schedule is my own.
'It doesn't mean I have nothing to do, the opposite is the case! I am much busier because a lot of people think I'm off doing nothing now so ask more things, but I also make sure I have more time for my family which is nice after my playing career. I am enjoying time away from football and can take my time to find out what I want to do in the future.'
Ballack, now 36, spent four years with us between 2006 and 2010, and is excited to see the return of the man who signed him.
'I was not completely surprised to see Jose Mourinho back because I read in the papers a lot about him going there,' he smiled. 'He is smart enough to know things always change when you go back to a club you were at before. He has a fantastic reputation and they love him at Chelsea, but also in England, even if he may divide opinion among other supporters and media.
'He had great success since he left Chelsea, winning the Champions League and I am sure he will be trying this again with Chelsea. I wish him all the best. We have a good relationship, he also came to my testimonial game and I believe he is really, really committed to the job, otherwise he may take time out after such an intense position as Real Madrid. That means he is still hungry and motivated. That's good for Chelsea.'