Didier Drogba has warned his former Chelsea team-mates that he will not allow his emotions to affect his desire to force Galatasaray into the Champions League quarter-finals at his old club's expense when the teams meet at Stamford Bridge next month.
The Ivorian helped the Turkish side recover an early deficit in Wednesday's first leg in Istanbul before going off 10 minutes from time with Galatasaray close to securing a 1-1 draw. Drogba has not played in London since leaving Chelsea after the 2012 European Cup final, in which he scored the decisive penalty in the shootout, and José Mourinho has said he expects the veteran forward to receive "the best reception of his life".
Such adulation had appeared to affect Drogba when he returned to another of his former teams, Marseille, with Chelsea for a Champions League group game in 2010. He cut a distracted figure that night as the locals in the stands rejoiced in his homecoming and the French club eased to a 1-0 success. But the forward believes the competitive edge in the current tie will ensure he retains his focus.
"It's going to be nice but it will not affect my game," said Drogba, who scored 157 goals over his eight-year spell in south-west London. "As much as I love this club [Chelsea], I am wearing now the Galatasaray jersey and I have to respect the club and the fans, so I will give everything for my team. After the games, yes, I can show more emotion. Going back to Marseille was different. We had already qualified and it was like a testimonial. It was different. This time there is a game to win.
"Playing on Wednesday was like being back at Cobham in a good training session. There was a lot of intensity and contact but it was a very good game. I am not back at the Bridge yet, I am not there yet, and I will only find out [the reception] when I am back. The only thing I know is that there is still one game to play. The first leg was a good result, we still have our chances, so I am not sure how it will be in a few weeks' time. We have to believe anything is possible: we are going there to try and create a big surprise, but if I did not believe that was possible, I wouldn't travel. I won't go back to Stamford Bridge if I don't believe."
Drogba visited the Chelsea dressing room post-match at the Turk Telekom Arena to renew acquaintances with old friends. "He got huge respect and gave our fans a big wave," Frank Lampard said. "There's a lot of love both ways between Didi and Chelsea. He popped in the dressing room after. It's like he's never gone, he was so friendly with everyone. I don't think he even bothered knocking on the door. Who's going to stop him anyway?"