The latest edition of Chelsea, also available in digital format, introduces two of our most recent acquisitions, Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah, to supporters.
The duo signed for the club during the January transfer window, Matic returning to west London for a second spell having previously departed in 2011, with Salah switching from Basel after catching the eye with his performances against us in Europe over the course of the last two seasons.
Matic made his second debut for the club in our FA Cup fourth-round win over Stoke City, and while his performance on that day was solid, it was his display during our Barclays Premier League victory away at Manchester City just over a week later which emphasised why we wished to bring him back to the club.
On a night when every Chelsea player rose to the challenge, Matic was a standout performer, driving the Blues on with his power in midfield and enjoying a good contest with Yaya Toure.
‘I don’t like to say I played against him or him or him – I prefer to say I played against Manchester City,’ Matic tells the latest edition of the magazine. ‘I have a lot of respect for every player and it doesn’t matter what his name is, I respect each opponent exactly the same.
‘Of course, I am always very happy when people have nice things to say about me, and it’s a pleasure if they like the way I play. I wanted to show my quality and I know it was important to start well because that helped me to feel more comfortable.
‘My job is always to do what the coach asks of me and to help my team-mates on the pitch. I focus on this. The most important thing is that the people who work with me every day feel I give my best.’
Having made three substitute appearances for Chelsea during the 2009/10 campaign, Matic departed the club in search of the regular first team football and it was a decision which ultimately proved beneficial. A two-year spell at Benfica allowed him to flourish while playing in a strong, competitive league, and he impressed to such an extent he was named Portuguese Player of the Year at the end of last season. He has returned to Stamford Bridge more confident, happy to take on added responsibility in the middle of the park.
‘I’m a midfielder – if I don’t take responsibility, who is going to?’ he says. ‘That’s why it was important for me to go away, to grow.
‘I feel different than I felt three years ago. I always believed I had the right qualities and style of play for the Premier League. This was my focus: to train hard, get on the pitch and take responsibility.
‘Maybe if I stayed at Chelsea, I don’t play like I do now – maybe I play better, maybe I play worse, you never know. But, for me, in that moment it was good to go and play.
‘I learned a lot at Benfica, which is one of the biggest clubs in the world; not only how to play that central-midfield position, but I learned to play with pressure. There is a lot of that at the club, just like there is at Chelsea, and it was good for me to go.’
For Salah, still only 21, the move to England represents a big transition, both on and off the field of play, and in this month’s issue of the magazine he recalls the sacrifices he made during the early part of his career.
‘I learned football with my friends on the streets in Tanta, where I grew up,’ he explains. ‘Then, when I was 13, I joined a club called Arab Contractors, where I had to go a long way by bus just to get to training. Then it was the same coming back.
‘For three years, I did this almost every day and I would make this journey maybe five or six times a week. It was not easy.’
Like a large percentage of the population in Egypt, Salah, as a youngster, would watch as much football on television as possible, and he remembers one particular match involving the Blues.
‘I remember watching Chelsea play against Liverpool in the Champions League – a 4-4 draw but Chelsea went through.
‘It was a really great game and it has been my dream to play in England – the Egyptian people want to see players in the Premier League and now they will see me playing at Chelsea, so there is more pressure on me.’
Gary’s significant games
Elsewhere in the magazine, in this month’s ‘Games That Made Me’, Gary Cahill picks out the matches which have helped shape his career to date. Among others, the Blues defender remembers his senior debut while on loan at Burnley, his international bow and nullifying the threat of Lionel Messi in the Champions League.
Mickey Thomas, the Welsh winger who was part of the side which secured promotion back to the top flight in 1983/84, is this month’s ‘Chelsea Icon.’ Thomas was only at the club for a short period but during that time developed a wonderful rapport with supporters. He looks back on his time at Stamford Bridge with great fondness, recalling the 4-4 Milk Cup draw with Sheffield Wednesday, Pat Nevin’s musical tastes and his sleeping arrangements the night before a game.
Shoe the Blue
British speedskater Richard Shoebridge recently competed at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, where the Chelsea supporter, due to the time difference, was forced to miss arguably our best performance of the season at Manchester City. In the latest edition of the magazine, he talks about his reasons for following the club, discussing the Blues with Seb Coe and why Fernando Torres is his favourite player.
For all this and more, get your copy of the latest edition of Chelsea, available now from the Megastore and all good newsagents priced £3.25.
Individual digital issues of Chelsea are available for just £2.99, and you can click on the relevant link below to buy yours now.
Android >> click here to download this month’s magazine or search for Chelsea in the app store
iOS >> click here to download this month’s magazine or search for Chelsea in the app store