The new edition of the official Chelsea magazine is now on sale and features an exclusive in-depth interview with Gonzalo Higuain.
The Argentine striker talks about his footballing roots and reveals how his dad had a big impact on his early progression in the game.
‘I had an advantage having a father who used to be a footballer and growing up with the world of football around me,’ Higuain tells Chelsea. ‘He played a very important role for me.
‘I had a great childhood. I grew up in a small town called Saavedra, in a house that has been my family’s home for many years, and I played football in school, with my friends. I did everything a normal kid does growing up, but the important thing is I always had my objectives clear, from the beginning, and my family helped me reach them.’
Having progressed through the River Plate Academy into the first team, Higuain caught the eye of several top European clubs, resulting in a move to Real Madrid in 2007.
‘I decided to follow my dream and the best thing for a footballer is to play in Europe,’ he
says. ‘It was very difficult to leave my family, my friends, the life I had in Buenos Aires.
It was not easy, but I’m happy and I don’t regret anything about the decision I made to move. I spent six-and-a-half years there, at one of the greatest teams in Europe. I had a great time, made some good friends and lived in a beautiful city.’
From there, he moved to Serie A with Napoli, Juventus and AC Milan, and he feels his time with a succession of major clubs have prepared him ideally for his latest move.
‘I have 12 years of playing in Europe behind me, which is great, but in order to achieve that you need to have a high level of concentration,’ he explains. ‘You can be relaxed, but you have to also be very strong in your head, in your mind. Mentally, you need to be very strong in order to reach the highest level and then to stay there because this is the type of career – and we are at the level – where, if you fall down, it’s very difficult to get back up.’
Coming to Chelsea reunites him with Maurizio Sarri, the manager he excelled under at Napoli where he broke the Serie A record for goals in a season after netting 36 times in 2015/16. He is delighted to be back with his old boss and looking forward to making the remainder of this campaign as successful as possible.
‘I’m just happy to be working with Maurizio again at a big club like Chelsea which has so much history and wonderful team-mates. He helped me with his methods, but especially with his words.
‘Before I came to Chelsea, I had the impression of a very good team, a great club, and of course you can see this is a very talented group of players. The training ground and all the facilities are at a great level – everything they have here is of the highest standard.
‘It’s a huge challenge to come and play in the Premier League and I’m going to give my all to help Chelsea.’
Cech this out
After announcing he will hang up his gloves at the end of the season, we take a pictorial look back at Petr Cech's trophy-laden career, from his record-breaking early seasons with the Blues to European glory earlier this decade. We also run down the keepers who have kept more clean sheets for the club than anyone else, with Cech topping that list ahead of some other fantastic custodians.
A class act
His playing days with Chelsea may have been cut short due to injury, but Paul Elliott reveals why he has nothing but fond memories of his years with the Blues, which also included spells within Glenn Hoddle's coaching set-up.
‘I absolutely loved my time at Chelsea and I’m still very welcome there,’ he explains. ‘I get on really well with Bruce Buck, the chairman, and he’s a great guy who I have a lot of time for.
‘I still had three-and-a-half years of close association with the club when I wasn’t playing and I was able to impact things as a person. I did so much work in the community, presentations on behalf of the club, and that honed my other skillsets, so I felt like a bit of an ambassador for the football club.
‘I really enjoyed the coaching and I was working with the youth team – imparting your knowledge, influencing young players and the preparation for matches. But my path obviously took me elsewhere.
As we prepare for our Carabao Cup final against Manchester City later this month, we remember an absolute classic from the Eighties, when we beat the Citizens in a nine-goal thriller at Wembley to win the Full Members’ Cup. There are also exclusive interviews with our Academy and Women's players, including Anita Asante after her impressive return to action following a serious injury.
The magazine is available to buy for £3.95 in the Chelsea Megastore at Stamford Bridge and all good newsagents from Wednesday. It can also be ordered online