Crofts - Norwich City can compete with Chelsea
Norwich City midfielder Andrew Crofts insists he has nothing to prove ahead of today's Premier League return to boyhood club Chelsea.
The Welsh international spent six years in the Blues' youth ranks without making a senior breakthrough before earning his top-flight ticket via Gillingham, Brighton and finally the Canaries.
'I'm just looking forward to going back there,' he said. 'I had six years there as a youngster and it put me in good stead for where I am now. I learned a lot, got coached by the best and it will be a good occasion for me to go back there. That's where I started my career and to end up back there is something I always wanted to do. I'm relishing it.
'I've seen a few changes since I was there, but it was still a Premier League club back then – it's always been a Premier League club, but they're an even bigger club now so I can't wait to get back there and see what the changes are like. First and foremost I can't wait to get on the pitch.'
Crofts' schoolboy mate John Terry was one of the few contemporaries to emerge through Chelsea's production line before going on to captain club and country.
'JT's had an unbelievable career and he's got loads of years left in him. It's great to see him doing so well,' said Crofts. 'When I was there, he looked after me, took me under his wing. He didn't have to do that and to still be in contact with him shows what a person he is as well.
'I was in digs with him. Bob Osborn, who I think is still there, was the kit man at the time and I used to stay up there in school holidays and he used to stay with him as well. He was only a young pro at the time, but he was still doing really well then. He and his best mate, Paul Nicholls, used to stay there and that's how I got to know him really well. He has good banter and he's a funny geezer, but most of all he's a winner and a leader.'
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'He got in contact with me just before Wales played England in the last game. He got my number off Gus Poyet from when I was at Brighton so it was nice of him to get in contact with me again. He said it was good to see me doing so well. He didn't have to do that and it will be nice to see him again.'
Crofts insists Norwich can compete with the west London aristocrats.
'We're going to be nice and positive. We know what a good side they are. We're going to be solid, but we want to go there and win the game,' he said. 'I hope we can do that. It's going to be a tough ask, but anything can happen on the day. We're a really good side and we know we're up against a really good side as well, but it's a game of football at the end of the day and everyone's on the same pitch. We know it's going to be tough but one we're looking forward to.
'The way we play we don't want to go there and just make the numbers up. We're there to win a game of football and if we can do that, great.
'We know it's going to be tough, but we go into every game wanting to win and it's going to be no different, even though they're a world-class team. We'll approach it in the same way. We're in the same league. We've earned the right to be there. The boys can't wait to get out there.'
Crofts was rested for the midweek Carling Cup exit against MK Dons, but is convinced City will respond in the right fashion.
'It's been nice and positive. We were off on the Wednesday and back in Thursday and it was forgotten about. It's in the past and there's nothing we can do about it,' he said. 'The league is more important. Although we want to win every game, that's gone. They might not know too much about us lot but they would have done their homework because they know that we're a good side as well.'