When Andre Schurrle makes his home debut for the Blues, it will of course be a special moment for our newest recruit. It will not, however, be the first time the German international has been involved in a competitive game at Stamford Bridge.
On 13 September 2011, Schurrle made his Champions League debut for Bayer Leverkusen in a group-stage match against Chelsea in west London. Only 20 years old at the time, he played the full 90 minutes as his side were beaten 2-0 courtesy of second-half goals from future team-mates David Luiz and Juan Mata.
For obvious reasons, it’s a game which stands out in his career but understandably, one he reflects on with mixed emotions.
‘I remember the game at Stamford Bridge as it was my first Champions League match,’ he tells the official Chelsea website.
‘I remember the stadium being right in the middle of the city, and it was the game where Michael Ballack returned to Chelsea for the first time and the supporters were brilliant with him.
‘It wasn’t such a great match for Leverkusen because we lost the match 2-0, but it was a great experience for me to play at Stamford Bridge.’
Schurrle was a second-half substitute during the return fixture just over two months’ later at the BayArena coming on with his side 1-0 down, and while Leverkusen came out on top on that occasion, he acknowledges their victory owed much to good fortune.
‘In Germany we won the match 2-1 after scoring two late goals,’ he says. ‘Chelsea were probably the better team on the night but we had more luck, so it was a perfect night for us.’
Schurrle’s final European campaign at Leverkusen came in the Europa League, where his former side were beaten at the first knockout stage by eventual finalists Benfica.
The 22-year-old is relishing the opportunity to compete in the Champions League once more having joined a Chelsea side who secured qualification with a third-place Premier League finish.
Last season’s tournament was special one for Schurrle’s country, with Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich contesting the final at Wembley.
Our latest acquisition, though, believes the threat to the Bundesliga pair from these shores shouldn’t be understated.
‘The Champions League is the greatest competition in elite football so I’m really looking forward to it,’ he says. ‘I’m hoping we can emulate the Chelsea side from two seasons ago, but we’ll see. I’m just happy to be involved in the tournament.
‘I definitely think they [the English teams] have the quality and the players to be a serious threat in the Champions League.
‘Last season Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich did very well, they are both great teams, but this time I hope it will be different. Premier League teams are always massive contenders to win the trophy.’
Looking slightly further ahead, Schurrle’s debut season in English football will precede next summer’s World Cup finals in Brazil, where he will hope to play a pivotal role for Joachim Low’s talented young side. Already a regular in the Germany squad, and with 24 caps to his name, the national team manager is well aware of Schurrle’s attributes.
‘It’s definitely a big season for me, I want to play in the World Cup for Germany so that means I need to do the best I can next season for Chelsea,’ Schurrle says. ‘Hopefully I will then be involved and have a good World Cup.’