Helsea striker Pierre Emerick Aubameyang has recalled his failure to reach the level at AC Milan after preparing to face his former club on Wednesday.
The 33-year-old returned to the Premier League in the final days of the summer transfer window after a successful eight-month stint at Barcelona, which was his first spell in Spain following successes in Germany, France and, most recently, England with Arsenal.
But it was in Italy, the other of Europe’s top five leagues, that a youngster Aubameyang – who scored his first Chelsea goal at the weekend against Crystal Palace – fell short.
“I know Milan well,” Aubameyang told reporters after the 2-1 win at Selhurst Park. “At that time the team was really strong, to be honest. Ronaldo, [Paolo] Maldini, [Alessandro] Nesta… I was very young. That’s why I chose to go on loan for a few years. I was just trying to get better and watch [Ronaldo] learn as much as possible.
“To tell the truth, he was a little big at that time! But he was still the best. I will always remember when Carlo Ancelotti asked him about his physical condition, he said: “What do you want me to do, run or score goals?” Ancelotti said “score goals”, and the next game Ronaldo scored twice!
“It’s part of the character and as a striker you need it because you have to be mentally strong. I was just a young kid among all these stars, I was playing and training. I was trying just to get as much as possible and pick up all those things in my career.
One of the attractions of a move to Chelsea for Aubameyang was playing in the Champions League, a luxury he missed out on during four years at Arsenal.
“Absolutely [I missed playing in the Champions League],” he continues. “Now I’m back, so I have to show what I can do.
“I’m also very happy to come back to the Premier League with a goal. When you’re a striker you just want to score that first goal as soon as possible and it happened today so I’m really happy.
“Especially since we won the game. We had a great attitude [against Palace]even though we were down at one point, we came back and showed great character and I’m really happy.