SPECIAL EXPERIENCE FOR YOUNG ROMANIANS
A second visit to Bucharest in 2013 gave another opportunity for Chelsea to invite children cared for by the Little People organisation in Romania along to our training session.
The Little People has been helping young people with cancer in Romania and Moldova since 1996 when it was set up by Londoner Shajjad Rizvi, who runs it with his wife Katie. They provide therapy, psychologists and educators not normally available to the children while they are being treated.
Chelsea first hosted children in their care when we played another Romanian side Cluj back in 2008, and that was followed by a visit in March ahead of the Europa League game against Steaua Bucharest.
Yesterday (Monday) children from three cancer hospitals in Bucharest met Jose Mourinho and the squad at the National Arena, venue for tonight's game.
'The children are huge Chelsea fans and they are either about to start treatment or have just recently finished,' explained Rizvi.
'The whole experience was absolute magic for them. It really has a deep impact on the lives of the little ones, and back in the hospital friends and family all feel extremely proud that their "little one" has met such special football players.'
Andrei, a 16-year-old, was especially pleased about speaking to Mourinho.
'Today I received two super pieces of good news,' he said afterwards.
'I will have my surgery in Italy as they can't perform the operation in Romania and I met my favourite football team. I can't believe I had the opportunity to shake their hands and asked if I could have an autograph from the Special One. He gave me a huge smile and said of course - you are special too!
'Now, if dreams like this can come true, it really gives me hope.'
Andrea, an 11-year-old (pictured below), said: 'My father kept calling me to take pictures, to smile, to tell them he is a huge fan. Everybody wanted to be there with me. I will show them the signatures and I am so proud to have this special experience.'
Ten-year -old Raul has had to stop playing football because of his illness.
'Chelsea football players are very big and nice, they smiled so much,' he said.
'When I leave hospital I will play football again and one day be a player for Chelsea.'