Pedro, Olivier Giroud, Chelsea legend Ashley Cole and Chairman Bruce Buck joined fans at the team hotel on Thursday night in a special Q&A session.
Fans from our official Tokyo and Japan supporters clubs, as well as a few from further afield, including Nepal and China, descended on the team hotel for an exclusive evening of entertainment and discussion with their Chelsea heroes.
The evening began with an extended chat with Cole and Buck, before Pedro and Giroud joined after their late training session to share an insight into life at Stamford Bridge.
Giroud discussed his admiration of former Japan international Hidetoshi Nakata, as well as some former Japanese team-mates earlier in his career, while Pedro gave an insight into training sessions under Frank Lampard and what he expects from Friday night’s game against Kawasaki Frontale.
The French striker was also asked about working with Frank Lampard.
‘Frank is coming with ideas and a lot of positive energy to make us improve in training,’ he said. ‘We are working hard in training and tactically also, I think we all agree we are enjoying the training. That’s a good thing, and when he speaks, everybody is listening. He’s a Chelsea legend. Everybody respects him and we are looking forward to beginning the season because he will help us improve.’
Cole spent time reflecting on his eight years as a Chelsea player and discussing how the club has grown since his arrival in 2006, taking time to mention the return of Frank Lampard to the club as head coach.
‘I think it’s great,’ he said. ‘You have to give credit to the club for giving him the chance to come back. I was lucky enough to work with him as a player here and I played under him at Derby.
‘Even at my age at 38, I learnt a lot from him, the way he works, the enthusiasm he has and the demand he has of his players. It’s great to be a fan now and be lucky enough to watch him working at Stamford Bridge. He’s a great addition to the club. Hopefully we can start winning trophies with him here.’
On his own future, Cole explained he plans to take his coaching badges and would like to be able to visit other clubs and study the work of other coaches.
Buck went on to discuss the importance of our supporters clubs all over the world and his joy at being able to bring the Blues to Japan in pre-season, a destination the team has long been wishing to visit since our last appearance here in 2012.
There were also opportunities for fans to get up close to the Europa League trophy for a photo, as well as grabbing selfies and autographs with Cole at the end of the session.
It all made for a fantastic evening ahead of what promises to be a big occasion for the local fanbase when the Blues take to the field this evening at Yokohama’s International Stadium against the Japanese champions. The stage is set and expectations are high.