The latest edition of Chelsea magazine features an exclusive interview with Marcos Alonso, who discusses all things England having recently signed a new five-year contract with the club.
The Spaniard has excelled since joining the Blues in 2016 and has been one of the first names on the team sheet under Maurizio Sarri, which is just reward for the hard work and determination he has shown since leaving Real Madrid and arriving on these shores eight years ago. His first English club were Bolton and he reflects on how some friendly faces helped him settle back then.
'That was difficult in the beginning,' the 27-year-old tells Chelsea. 'I had lived all my life in my house with my family and I didn’t know what it was to live away and be alone a lot of the time. It took me a little bit of time to understand that. It was completely different to Spain, but it was very important for me to learn this, not just to grow as a player, but as a person as well, and I have great memories from that time.
'I was living close to the stadium, on the training ground, where I was working every day, and then I used to go to Manchester. I met some new friends there and I hung out with some of my team-mates – I remember Stuart Holden and Ivan Klasnic were very, very important in the beginning because they treated me as a young brother and they took good care of me.
'I also had friends coming from Spain to see me and my family has always been important for me. They tried to help me out as much as they could from another country, which is not easy, and they came to visit me as well – my dad used to come to the games.'
Having also plied his trade with Sunderland, following a switch to Italy with Fiorentina, Alonso reveals how he has a sound grasp of English culture having sampled life in both the north and the south, and discusses his admiration for the supporters here.
'I know the difference between dinner and tea, as Gary Cahill also knows very well! But it’s not that I do different things [here], I just try to do the stuff I like always. That’s much easier in England because it’s a great part of English life how the fans respect the players. Here in England they value your personal space. I think that’s amazing, and that’s why – in the same way – us players respect the fans so much.'
Alonso also talks about our fortunes so far this season, with the Blues still unbeaten in all competitions, and he feels we can enjoy a great deal of success under Sarri's management.
'I think we are just at the beginning of something very good,' he says. 'He’s a great manager and a very good man as well. It’s been a great start, I think there’s still a lot of room for improvement and I think we can do very well under Maurizio.
'The last few years this club has been the best, or one of the best in England, and that’s what we have to keep achieving, to win more titles and keep having this winning mentality, to bring more joy to our fans. Okay, you can’t win a title and be in the fight for everything every year, but I think this club has the winning mentality inside it and that’s something important.'
From hope to despair
Had fortune favoured Pierluigi Casiraghi, he could have enjoyed a successful career with the Blues. However, a serious knee injury brought his playing days to a premature end and the magazine caught up with the Italian to discover how he came to terms with that. He also looks back on his coaching days alongside his 'brother' Gianfranco Zola, what it felt like to score in front of the Chelsea fans at Anfield and his elation at turning out at Stamford Bridge once again at this year's Legends match.
Captain, leader, legend
After he announced his retirement as a player, we look back on the glittering career of our most successful captain of all time, John Terry. From his early days breaking into the team, to the trophy-filled years of the 21st Century, Chelsea has collated some of the most iconic images from JT's playing days.
Following the sad passing of our former player and manager Ken Shellito, the latest instalment of our Perfect Partners feature looks back on how he and fellow full-back Eddie McCreadie reinvented the art of full-back play back in the Sixties. As part of Tommy Docherty's dazzling 'Diamonds', the duo were key elements of one of the most entertaining Chelsea sides of all time. Although Shellito was another who had to call time on his career due to injury, we look at how the legacy he and McCreadie created is still very living on to this day.
Jason Cundy shows everyone how much the Blues mean to him on a weekly basis with his work on Chelsea TV, and the former defender takes a fascinating look back on his days turning out for the club. In another homage to Shellito, we run down the 10 men who have transferred their skills on the pitch to the dugout for the club, and there is the usual round-up of our Academy and Women teams, including exclusive Q&As with the players.
For all this and much more, purchase the latest edition of Chelsea, which is available now at the Stamford Bridge Megastore and all good newsagents, priced £3.95. You can also purchase copies online here