By Jim Wirth & Ken Martin
Just under two years ago, Czech midfield player Jirí Jarošik was big news when he became the most expensive signing in the history of Russian football by joining PFC CSKA Moskva from AC Sparta Praha for €3.7m.
Now he is back on the back pages again after linking up with his former Sparta and Czech Republic team-mate, Petr Cech, at Chelsea FC. "My dream has come true," the 27-year-old told uefa.com. "I asked Petr Cech about Chelsea. He confirmed to me that coach José Mourinho wanted me. That is the most important thing and I was happy to hear that. This is a massive opportunity for me and I want to do my best."
As Chelsea won 2-0 against UEFA Cup contenders Middlesbrough FC on Tuesday night, mystery surrounded the widespread rumours of Jarošik's move. However, the player was in London that day for talks with José Mourinho. "It was a very pleasant meeting," said the player. "He was charming and I liked him.
"The coach asked me when I had last played and when I had last trained. I replied that for the last few weeks I have mainly been resting after a tough season in Russia. But he told me he would give me a run-out in the FA Cup match against Scunthorpe United [FC] - that will be my debut."
Jarošik had something of a crisis of conscience when he moved to Russia, saying at the time: "Before I went to Russia to sign the contract, my mum said, 'Please don't go. You can earn less, but go to another country'. She doesn't like Russia for what it did to our country before 1989. I was scared to tell her I had signed a contract, but she calmed down and said, 'This is your chance'."
That certainly proved to be the case. Jarošik proved to be a big hit in Moscow, his inspirational skills in midfield proving to be a major factor behind the Army Men's title win in 2003, CSKA's first since the final Soviet Supreme League season in 1991.
Now he is hoping to win titles at Stamford Bridge. "I don't mind if I start my Chelsea career on the bench among the substitutes," he added. "It is only logical that I won't immediately replace Claude Makelele or Frank Lampard. And there is one more thing: I have spent the last three weeks on holiday. I only did the occasional run in my hometown. So the first thing I have to do is to start training again.
"I must admit that I am little bit nervous," said Jarošik. "I know that I will start from square one in London and two wonderful years in Moscow will count for nothing. I can't speak English well, I can't drive a car on the right-hand side of the road, and I can't play in the [UEFA] Champions League knockout phase. But such a big opportunity like this may only come once in my career. It is an incredible challenge for me."
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