Crespo: I had fun with Chelsea. I loved London

Hernan Crespo had told FourFourTwo that he still holds Chelsea fans in high regard despite his indifferent spell with the Blues.

The Argentina striker, who scored 35 goals in 64 international appearances - a record bettered only by Lionel Messi and Gabriel Batistuta - spent two full seasons with the Blues either side of a year-long loan with Milan.

Crespo netted a total of 20 league goals in 49 appearances across his two stints with the West Londoners, picking up a Premier League winners’ medal 12 months after scoring in the Champions League final in Istanbul.

The fans were unbelievable. They sang [breaks into song] ‘Hello, hello! Hernan Crespo, Hernan Crespo!’ I wanted to give something back as I felt I had their respect. I had fun with Chelsea. The English have great respect for footballers

But despite failing to recapture his from from Italy, where he had plundered 144 goals in seven seasons with Parma, Lazio and Inter, the South American insists he enjoyed his time in England.

Speaking exclusively in the January 2016 issue of FourFourTwo, the 40-year-old, now in charge of Serie B side Modena, says: “I had some very difficult personal problems during my time at Chelsea. My family lost two children. Emotionally, it was very, very hard to go through all of that on a personal level.

“Professionally, it was great. The fans were unbelievable. They sang [breaks into song] ‘Hello, hello! Hernan Crespo, Hernan Crespo!’ I wanted to give something back as I felt I had their respect. I had fun with Chelsea. The English have great respect for footballers. I loved London. I would run all the way there.”

Even today I can’t believe it. After the game it was like a funeral. Nobody spoke - not in the dressing room, not on the team bus, not even in the hotel. It was very difficult. Some players were crying. Others embraced their wives and children.

And on the subject of Istanbul, Crespo is quick to play down reports that the Rossoneri were celebrating Champions League final success at half-time of their famous defeat to Liverpool.

“[In English] Can I say bullsh*t? Yes? Bullsh*t! When you’re young, you’re taught that the game lasts 90 minutes. We were all experienced players, including Clarence Seedorf, Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta, Alessandro Nesta, Andrea Pirlo, Gennaro Gattuso, Andriy Shevchenko - do you think these guys would celebrate?

“Sadly, there were journalists who made up this story to justify what happened to us. They said that we celebrated, when actually, despite leading 3-0, we had sat and discussed what we could do better. What happened in Istanbul was destiny. It’s football. And that’s the sadness and beauty of our game.”

“Even today I can’t believe it. After the game it was like a funeral. Nobody spoke - not in the dressing room, not on the team bus, not even in the hotel. It was very difficult. Some players were crying. Others embraced their wives and children.”

Read the full interview with Hernan Crespo in the January 2016 issue of FourFourTwo, available in print, on iPad and on iPhone now. A South American special, we go access all areas to find out what makes Boca Juniors one of the most iconic clubs in the world, rate the continent’s fiercest rivalries and discover Cafu’s most memorable matches. Plus, we hail goalscoring goalkeepers from Rogerio Ceni to Jose Luis Chilavert via Sebastian Saja and Johnny Vegas Fernandez (yes, really), learn what’s it like playing at altitude, meet Chile’s Deportivo Palestine, who give hope to fans suffering 9,000 miles away, and recall life under Pablo Escobar’s rule for Atletico Nacional. Grab your copy today or subscribe!