Ronaldo was a bit FAT when I was his understudy… but he still taught me how to score goals, says Chelsea star Aubameyang
PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG will use tricks and tips picked up from the original Ronaldo as he attempts to revive Chelsea’s Champions League campaign against old club AC Milan.
The Blues are without a win in their two group games so far this season and sit bottom of Group E.
Aubameyang, who started his professional career at Milan, opened his Chelsea account with a superb equaliser against Crystal Palace on Saturday.
The Gabon international never made a first-team appearance for Milan but trained with Brazilian Ronaldo on a daily basis.
Ronaldo may have kept a young Aubameyang out of the side, but — despite being “a bit fat” by that time — he taught him plenty.
Aubameyang said: “The team was really strong, to tell the truth.
“Ronaldo, Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta… at that time I was very young.
“I was just trying to improve and looking at him to learn as much as I could. To tell the truth, he was a bit fat by then! But he was still the best.
“I will always remember when Carlo Ancelotti had a go at him about his fitness, he said, ‘What do you want me to do, run or score goals?’
“Ancelotti said, ‘score goals’, and the next time Ronaldo scored twice!
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“That is part of the character and as a striker you need that because you have to be strong mentally.”
It is that hunger to score goals which has driven Aubameyang to become one of the top strikers in Europe, something which Chelsea, and new boss Graham Potter, have needed desperately.
Chelsea have long struggled to secure a firing No 9, with former chief Thomas Tuchel even referencing the curse on the shirt during his time in charge at Stamford Bridge.
While Potter was forever in need of a clinical striker to bury the countless wasted chances during his time as Brighton boss.
To tell the truth, he was a bit fat by then! But he was still the best.
Aubameyang on Ronaldo
Aubameyang started last season with Arsenal before joining Barcelona in January.
But he had still not bagged a Premier League goal for almost a year before his 38th-minute strike cancelled out Odsonne Edouard’s seventh-minute opener for Palace on Saturday.
Potter said: “It’s certainly handy. Goals can help you, that’s for sure, and we needed a goal. He’s been working hard as well for us.”
Aubameyang, 33, said: “It’s a long time [since my last Premier League goal].
“But I am really happy to get back to the Premier League with a goal today.
“When you are a striker you just want to get that first goal as soon as possible and it came so I am really happy.”
The former Gunners striker has been pushing hard for match fitness.
He even had to wear a mask for his first two Chelsea games after he and his wife were brutally attacked by thugs at their home in Barcelona shortly before his return to London.
He made a quiet start at Selhurst Park before coming alive to whack home a first Chelsea goal.
‘I AM REALLY HAPPY’
Thiago Silva had nodded Reece James’ long ball into his path and Aubameyang rolled Palace defender Joel Ward before firing his first-time finish past a helpless Vincente Guaita.
Potter added: “He’s had a difficult summer for different reasons.
“He’s had a quite traumatic experience that can affect you, I think, and the way he has handled himself has been A1 I would say.
“So I’m really happy for him to get a goal and contribute to a win.”
It was a victory sealed typically by former Palace man Conor Gallagher.
The England midfielder nabbed all three points in the 90th minute with a fine strike from the edge of the area.
Gallagher, 22, endured a tough start to the season under Tuchel but will hope to kick-on under Potter.
Team-mate Ruben Loftus-Cheek, another who has had to fight for minutes with Chelsea having impressed on loan at Palace, hailed midfielder Gallagher for his impact.
Loftus-Cheek said: “Look at the number of quality players here. If you don’t start you’ve got to be ready to come on and make an impact.
“That’s just how it is for us and for any club. Any player that wants to start, it’s paramount that you put in a good performance and he did that.
“I’m really happy for him. To come on and get a goal against his old team is good. I love the fans here, they gave me a really good reception and cannot say anything higher about them.”