Mon. Feb 18th, 2019

Chelsea ace Pedro lifts lid on Sarri, problems under Mourinho, hails Guardiola – EXCLUSIVE

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Who is the most decorated player, the player with the most medals, currently playing in the Premier League?

There was a pause, 15 seconds or more, as the smiling Spaniard considered his answer. Then he looked at me. “Er, is it me?”

Spot on. Top marks, no extra points because it wasn’t a bonus question. The 31-year-old Chelsea striker’s beam grew wider. He is top of the list, the current leader of the Premier League pack, with an astonishing 25 trophies in what can only be labelled a glittering career.

The nearest challenger is Manchester City’s Fernandinho with 21, then come Lucas Moura with 20 and Petr Cech on 19. But way out there in front is Chelsea’s busy little winger, who started amassing the gongs in 2008 by winning Spain’s Tercera Division with Barcelona B, and has not stopped since.

Along the way have come five La Liga titles, three Copa del Reys, four Supercoppas, three Champions Leagues, three UEFA Super Cups, two World Club Cups, a Premier League title and an FA Cup. Oh, and, of course, he won the World Cup and Euro 2012 with Spain.

Count ’em – twenty-five, and all but two of them working for the man he rates as the most important figure in his career, the man who gave him his Barcelona debut at the age of 20, the man he goes up against on Sunday. Pep Guardiola.

“Twenty-five trophies is good. I’m proud to win so many,” he said.

“I did not imagine that when I started out. It is impossible. When you start playing you are just thinking about playing well, helping your team. You are hoping to win, but it is so difficult.

“It’s amazing. When I retire I will think of these titles.”

Chelsea star Pedro has enjoyed his time at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea star Pedro has enjoyed his time at Stamford Bridge (Image: GETTY)

Chelsea star Pedro has enjoyed a glittering career

Chelsea star Pedro has enjoyed a glittering career (Image: GETTY)

Chelsea and Pedro have enjoyed Premier League success in the past

Chelsea and Pedro have enjoyed Premier League success in the past (Image: GETTY)

So where does he keep all that silverware? He explained: “I have a cabinet at my house in Barcelona. I put the medals in there, to show my kids, friends and family.”

Last week, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino claimed trophies were only useful for building egos.

But Pedro, who already has another cup final booked with Chelsea in the shape of the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City on February 24 at Wembley, said: “A title is a title. It is not important if it is a small cup or another title when you retire, you have won this title – you are proud.”

And certainly, all these titles have not sent this boy from Tenerife’s ego through the roof. Pedro plays with a smile on his face and works hard, even in the tough times, a trait which has endeared him to Stamford Bridge fans.

He spurned Manchester United and arrived at Chelsea from Barcelona in a £21million deal late in the summer of 2015, just as Jose Mourinho’s second spell was beginning to turn sour.

He scored on his debut but as Mourinho went he was in and out of the side. Under Antonio Conte, winning the title in his first season, he scored nine goals, but last year as Conte departed, only four. The Spaniard seemed a bit-part player, as often on the bench as on the pitch.

Chelsea star Pedro previously worked with Pep Guardiola at Barcelona

Chelsea star Pedro previously worked with Pep Guardiola at Barcelona (Image: GETTY)

Chelsea EXCLUSIVE: Pedro has opened up on problems under Jose Mourinho

Chelsea EXCLUSIVE: Pedro has opened up on problems under Jose Mourinho (Image: GETTY)

Under Maurizio Sarri, though, he has become a mainstay, swapping wings with Willian, a reliable grafter, with seven goals to his name.

“That first year was probably the most difficult in my career,” he said. “I had the expectation to win titles. Chelsea were the champions. But we lost games. It was difficult in the dressing room with players not happy. But I learned a lot.

“Under Conte in the first season I played a lot – he was a different character. It was a good season and to win the Premier League was great.”

And Sarri? “The character is different again. But his idea for me is the best, because when you recover the ball you are close to the target.”

Guardiola, who coached him at Barcelona B, gave him his chance in the first team in 2008 and set him on his way, is the key figure in Pedro’s career.

“He was the best for me. He put me in the first team. You could straight away see Pep was an amazing coach. I won titles, we played great football – and he went to Bayern and now City, and won more titles.

Chelsea winger Pedro didn't play as much as he would have liked under Antonio Conte

Chelsea winger Pedro didn’t play as much as he would have liked under Antonio Conte (Image: GETTY)

“He is complete as a coach. He was a player, so he understands players, but he is complete tactically, and very good at motivation.”

So what does this topsy-turvy season hold for Chelsea?

Pedro said: “We are still alive in four competitions. It is good to be in a final. In the league it could be better, and against City it will be tough, but the top four is the target.”

And there just may be another trophy to add to that impressive haul.

Pedro supports the Chelsea Foundation, dedicated to providing football to support communities at home and abroad.

The Foundation’s innovative programmes offer a wide range of sport-related projects to promote equality and diversity, health, education, active lifestyles and tackle social exclusion and anti-social behaviour. For more info visit chelseafc.com/foundation.

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