Former Super Eagles left back, Celestine Babayaro is still bitter at the hat-trick his compatriot, Nwankwo Kanu scored against Chelsea in a thrilling London derby 19 years ago at Stamford Bridge reports Completesportsnigeria.com.
The Blues had taken a 2-0 lead in the fixture, through goals from Tore Andre Flo and Dan Petrescu but with 15 minutes left, Kanu netted goals in the 75th, 83rd and 90th minute, to complete a remarkable comeback for the Gunners.
“They were all difficult games in the Premier League but it was especially a big game if I was going to play against my mate Kanu at Arsenal,” the 40-year-old who spoke to Chelsea’s official website.
“I did not want to lose and I was gutted when he (Kanu) scored the three goals against us at Stamford Bridge! We were 2-0 up and I thought we had won and suddenly he was doing these tricks against us that I had never seen before.”
Babayaro was the first African player to join Chelsea in the club’s history when he was signed by Ruud Gullit and he revealed that Dutch legend had the biggest influence on his football career as a manager.
The former Nigerian international signed for the Blues from Anderlecht in the summer of 1997.
“Ruud Gullit had an influence because he was the manager who signed me and he was someone I had looked up to when he was one of the three Dutch masters with Van Basten and Rijkaard. When I saw him in person, I was like wow!,” Babayaro told Chelsea’s official website.
Babayaro who adds that he has no regrets on his time at the club also recounted his memorable moment playing for the former English Premier League champions and the team-mates he was closest to during your time at the club.
“I played in the FA Cup final when we beat Aston Villa and the Super Cup against Real Madrid when Gustavo scored and it was 1-0. I did enjoy that one. In the Champions League, I scored against Feyenoord when someone crossed and I did a diving header. That was a great goal and I did do a backflip at that time so I liked that one.”
“When I first arrived I was close to Roberto Di Matteo, he showed where to go, restaurants to eat in, and I was pretty close to Gianfranco. I went to his house to have dinner which is why every time I see him I say to him to say hello to his wife for me. I still stay in touch with most of my team-mates – Wisey, Gus – and I saw them all again at that Legends game against Inter Milan.”
“I would not change anything at all. I enjoyed my time at Chelsea and I am no.1 Chelsea fan. I honestly do not miss any game. Even if I am not there live I am watching on telly.”
He was also pleased with the brilliant start Chelsea have made this season under new manager Maurizio Sarri. Chelsea currently leads the EPL log having won all of their five opening games.
“Brilliant. I love it so far and I love Maurizio Sarri, his ways are amazing. You saw the kind of football he played at Napoli and I think he is bringing the same here and you can see in the games so far that Chelsea is a different class.”