Schalke vs Chelsea: Roberto Di Matteo says he is not out for 'revenge' against former club

Italian led Chelsea to Champions League win but was sacked just five months later

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The Independent Online

‘It is just another game, just about the three points, the past is the past.’ Maybe Roberto Di Matteo was telling the truth when he repeatedly insisted tomorrow night’s reunion with Chelsea is simply another professional engagement, but few believed him.

Time and again this afternoon the Schalke 04 coach was invited to reflect on winning the Champions League with Chelsea, who his current club play in the Champions League tomorrow evening, and each time he did his best to downplay its personal significance.

Di Matteo was sacked by Chelsea just months after leading the Premier League leaders to their first and, to date, only Champions League title. But, aside from a pointed reference to the quality of their summer recruitment, he did his best to give the impression there were no hard feelings.

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Di Matteo won the Champions League with Chelsea but was sacked five months later

Beating Chelsea, he insisted, “would mean we'd get three points and would be in a very good position in the group. That's what it would mean. Nothing else. I have no sentiment for revenge or anything like that. I enjoyed a wonderful time there with many people, and that's it.

“Maybe after the game, perhaps, [I] can have some emotions, then. But it's a game. A Champions League game. FC Schalke against Chelsea. Nothing else. That's what we concentrate on for now. All I've done over the last few days is concentrate on getting the team well prepared.”

Pressed the Italian, who took over Schalke six weeks ago and has overseen four home wins and three away defeats, did talk briefly about Chelsea’s 2012 triumph, during which they defeated Barcelona in Catalonia with ten men to reach the final, and Bayern Munich in Bavaria to win it.

“It was a great time, a highlight of a manager's career. There were many special moments, not just that night... running up to it as well, but I don't think about it much. People remind me of it, but personally I'm a person who looks to the future and doesn't live in the past. Those are the things I can influence. The past is there for everybody to see, but I look forward.”

Asked if he felt he was ‘given a fair crack of the whip’ after winning the Champions League he said: “That's life. Time, in football, is very precious. You would always like to have time, but we all know that's not the case in modern football. You just have to live with that and get on with it. Life goes on after that.”

Referring to the present team, he added: “I think they have every opportunity to be very successful this season. They've signed good players, functional players for the team who are expressing themselves at the highest level.

“We've got to give an absolutely great game and hope Chelsea have an off day. They've not lost this season and have fantastic players in their ranks. But we're playing at home, the morale is good, there are positives for us to tap into.”

Di Matteo also played, with considerable success, for Chelsea and he added: “I know lots of people there, players there too. There is obviously a legacy between us. These are big players who have achieved a lot in their careers, and also players with whom I will always be in touch for the rest of our lives. But those are private acquaintances.”

And that was all a private man was going to say about a very public reunion.  

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