Barely two days since I met my new Chelsea teammates in Cobham, we traveled to Birmingham to face West Bromwich Albion in a Premier League match. The expected time of my first game with the blue shirt loomed on the horizon. Everything around me was new and exciting. The concentration, trip, pregame rituals and what I wanted most: make my debut with my new team in this great competition of which I had seen so many big games in the past. Skip into the pitch and give everything I had inside. It was too early to get into the starting eleven, but once I heard the lineup I knew I was a starter. One more reason to pay butt.
The Hawthorns stadium was a pressure cooker. Even before the ball began to roll, I got surprised by the intensity in which the fans cheered their team with endless songs that came from all corners. That intensity, the passion of the fans, was also reflected in the character of the team and how they faced the game, putting soul in every action, without keeping anything inside. The match was very physical, hard and fast, back and forth. The ball ran like wildfire and I felt comfortable in that dynamic from the first minute, perfectly integrated into the team style and feeling good.
Jose Mourinho put me on the right wing and from there I was providing crosses, combinations and managing to get away to break the defense. Without the ball, quick shutting and pressure their game in all lines. Being close to Cesc, Diego Costa and Azpilicueta helped. I knew the way he played for many games with the national team and that made easier for me to fit into the team style. They could have taken the lead from the penalty spot, but Courtois avoided their chance with his feet. The danger was around both areas and after insisting the first goal fell on our side.
It happened in the blink of an eye. I got the ball in the middle, on the right side of the pitch, and took the diagonal into the area. I wanted to build a vertical attack and break the defense with a quick combination, giving the ball as much speed as I could. My support was Hazard, with incredible skills; he received the ball and turned winning his markers back to serve me a fabulous pass. Just 48 hours since I met him for the first time, he acted automatically as if we had been playing together for years. He understood what I wanted and immediately served me a cross near the box line. Two more touches to keep going and I didn´t doubt, I shot low with my left, trying to overcome the defender covering that flank. The ball touched lightly on the inside of his ankle and adjusted even more its way to the post.
I had an inexplicable feeling when I saw the ball crossing the goal line. A perfect blend of joy, anger and gratitude made me explode in celebration. I could hardly believe what I was hearing when the fans began to sing my name. I could not have dreamt a better debut, although much time remained to fight for the three points. It was not easy, but the first blow ran from us. The second as well.
Just ten minutes later, Costa, whom I knew well from the national team, made the second in our favor. Willian gave me the ball and I walked a few meters until I saw Diego in the area. I made a cross and he, always a goal guarantee, hit the final shot. We found ourselves 0-2 and everything seemed on track, although the Premier League showed its true face me in this first match. The rival continued tightening a great time and shorted differences, but we regain the lead before the break with a third goal, also a Spanish, Azpilicueta. After the break we had to suffer again, as we were staying with 10 because Terry, our captain and center back, was sent out. Shortly after, the opponent again cut differences again and we had to defend tooth and nail the 2-3.
When the referee ended the match the feeling of satisfaction was complete. The team needed those three points. We got an important victory in a difficult pitch, thanks to the work of all. By my side, things could not have gone better: first game in the starting 11 with a goal and an assist. When boarding to the bus, on the way to the airport, I had time to think deeply. What I experienced at The Hawthorns was a great start, a firm first step into the competition. With so many spaces, such a fast game, back and forth, constant opportunities ... It gave all the requirements to enjoy my new career in a wonderful championship ... And it was only the first day of competition! A dreamt start.
Myhill; Dawson, McAuley, Olsson, Brunt; McManaman (Gnabry 77’), Morrison Gardner 88’), Fletcher (c), Yacob, McClean; Rondon.Chelsea FC:
Courtois; Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry , Azpilicueta; Fabregas, Matic; Pedro (Mikel 84’), Willian (Cahill 60’), Hazard; Diego Costa (Falcao 77’).Bookings:
Mark Clattenburg bookek Matic 16’, McClean 36’ and McManaman 71’. John Terry sent-off 52’.Goals:
0-1 (20’) Pedro; 0-2 (30’) Diego Costa; 1-2 (35’) Morrison; 1-3 (42’) Azpilicueta; 2-3 (59’) Morrison