It is not uncommon for Pedro to be contesting for end-of-season silverware in a glittering career in which the Spaniard has won 20 major honours. Now the Europa League final represents an opportunity for Chelsea to add a trophy to a productive 2018/19 campaign.
The 31-year-old has featured in all but one game on the way to this evening’s final against Arsenal in Baku and he has urged his team-mates to finish the season with one last push for glory against our old London rivals. If successful in Azerbaijan, that special winning feeling will mark a job well done over the past nine months for Maurizio Sarri’s side.
‘It’s the culmination of a whole year’s worth of hard work,’ he said in the build-up to the final. ‘For us, lifting a title is the best, most satisfying feeling. It means that we have done our job well over the course of the season and ultimately, to have the opportunity to feel that emotion when you lift the trophy is something unique.
‘You have to experience it to know what it feels like because you cannot put it into words. It’s important for us because it’s very satisfying to see that you have done your job and that the fans can share in that emotion.
‘You’re always eager to keep winning titles and to keep winning trophies because it is important for your career and it helps you grow as a player. You can get bored of many things, but never winning. You always want to win as many trophies and titles as possible.’
The Europa League is one rare piece of silverware missing from Pedro’s CV and that fact gives motivation to the winger in a final he believes will be an open contest between two of the top five in English football.
‘It gives me added motivation because it is a title that’s not yet on the list of achievements for my career, and also because it’s a European title for the club and that always drives you on a little more,’ he said.
‘We’ve had a great Europa League campaign and the final against Arsenal is going to be very good to watch and very open. They are an opponent that we know likes to play football, they defend from the front like we do, so I think it will be a final that is very easy on the eye.’
Our European campaign this term has provided plenty of opportunities for the young players in the squad to feature and thrive. Ruben Loftus-Cheek netted his first Chelsea hat-trick in the group stage before opening the scoring with a crucial goal in the semi-final second leg against Eintracht Frankfurt, while four of Callum Hudson-Odoi’s five senior goals have come in the competition this term.
For Pedro, the blend of youth and experience has created a perfect dressing room dynamic and the forward has taken on the responsibility of imparting his football wisdom to those stepping up.
‘I feel I’ve built up quite a bit of experience over my career so I always try to give any advice I can,’ he explained. ‘We have a good group here - the young players and the veterans are all in tune with one another in the dressing room and that’s important.
‘There are players with a lot of experience like David Luiz or Eden Hazard, and other players who’ve been playing for this club for several years like Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill. They can give a lot of advice to the young players as well. N’Golo Kante is another good example because he’s a very calm person who plays an important role for us. He always trains in the best way and in that sense we have a good group to be able to compete and also learn as well.
‘Knowing how to combine youth and experience, and having a harmonious dressing room, can be difficult. It’s difficult to build a dressing room like the one we have here. We have very good people and very good players, we’re all one big family, and that shows on and off the pitch. I think people see that it helps us to be able to put up a good fight for trophies.’
This will be the third meeting of the season between Sarri’s Blues and Unai Emery’s Reds, with the sides sharing a win apiece in the Premier League. That familiarity could make the contest even more tight and edgy, not to mention the fact that two London rivals come head-to-head in a European final almost 3,000 miles from home.
‘We’ve been playing them throughout the season in the league so I think it will be more tense because perhaps we know them better,’ noted the winger. ‘When you play a team from the same city, it makes it a derby on top of being a European final, which gives us even more motivation because there such high stakes in one match. It will be a very tense game with a great rivalry but we will just try to play the very best we can to win the title.’