FIRST WORDS: MOHAMED SALAH
Mohamed Salah is at Cobham today (Friday) meeting the other Chelsea players as a team mate, rather than the opposition attacker he was on four occasions during 2013.
With his move from Basel to London completed at the weekend, the exciting 21-year-old continued a very special week by being named the Swiss Football League Player of the Year by a panel of managers, club captains and journalists on Tuesday, and winning a vote by fans for their favourite player.
Add to those honours the Swiss Golden Player award which was handed to him in December, the choice of his fellow players, and it was quite a 12 months for our new signing.
'It was a very good year for me because this is after the first year for me playing in Europe,' Salah tells the official Chelsea website.
'You know it is very difficult for any player playing in Europe but now in this second year I am playing in Chelsea, and for me it is fantastic. It is not easy playing for Chelsea and also we have very good players playing in my position, but I will do my work hard and we will see.'
Many Chelsea fans remember the goals the Egyptian scored in our Europa League and Champions League meetings with Basel. The first proved to be a consolation in the semi-final last spring, but this season he struck an equaliser in England and a winner back in Switzerland as we lost the group games home and away.
For short spells in those matches it was almost a Salah v Cech contest, with our goalkeeper pulling off several good saves as well as being beaten in the moments listed.
'It was a good time that I could score a goal, after 87 minutes in Basel,' Salah says of the most recent of those goals, 'but now I hope I can start to score for Chelsea, not against Chelsea.'
Jose Mourinho, speaking soon after the signing was announced on Sunday, said: 'It is good because now he doesn't score against Chelsea! We tried to go for a young, left-footed, fast player who is fast in the space. He is the kind of player that looks for space and tries to get behind people.'
Salah, asked about his qualities on the pitch, says: 'I read the manager's words already and I always want to play good. I can play on the right or on the left, and the No.10 position sometimes but not as much.'
Playing a similar role for the full Egypt national team, Salah has struck an impressive 17 goals in 27 appearances and in addition, at the London 2012 Olympics he found the net against a Brazil side containing Oscar, and against New Zealand and Belarus, although none of those games were played in the capital.
'Everyone has told me London is a very nice city and you'll love it,' he smiles.
'Everybody knows I spoke to Liverpool and I respect everybody at Liverpool, but I speak about Chelsea now. Jose Mourinho called my directly and Chelsea made a good offer to FC Basel and everything is good.
'I've always liked to watch Premier League matches. Many times the games are open and you can play football.'
At the end of last week when Chelsea had agreed a deal with Basel for Salah, there were additional stories in the media about the player, ones he wishes to respond to here.
'I am a footballer - I do not do politics. I respect everybody, it doesn't matter where they come from. I do not have a problem with anybody. I am here to play football and I will not speak about this again.'
Salah was able to conduct his first interviews since becoming a Chelsea player in English, having begun learning the language when he moved to Switzerland in 2012. He had a teacher for a month but then gave that up due to the demands of a busy fixture schedule. He continued to pick up English from contact with other players but will now resume lessons.
He adds his name to a short but distinguished list of Africans who have played for Chelsea, but our recent stars have been West Africans, a long way from the Mediterranean countries north of the Sahara.
'This is different because from Arab people, not many have played in Europe for the big teams and maybe many people there will now follow me for Chelsea,' Salah says. 'From Egypt, maybe nobody went to a high step yet, so this is different.
'Going to Chelsea, a big team, is fantastic for anyone, not only me, and I hope I can play here always and have a good career.'