Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Del Horno Already Dreaming of Europe

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Del Horno Already Dreaming of Europe

Article excerpt

Byline: STUART JAMES

ASIER DEL HORNO says he is dreaming of playing in the Champions League next season after completing his [pounds sterling]8million move to Chelsea.

The 24- year- o ld Spanish defender's European experience is limited to two games in the UEFA Cup with Athletic Bilbao.

He will have to make the step up next year as Chelsea look to build on the disappointment of their Champions League exit against Liverpool last season.

He said today: "To play in the Champions League with such a team and have a chance of winning is a dream for any player. " Del Horno also revealed today how the personal intervention of Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho convinced him to make the move.

He added: "At some stages of the negotiations I was anxious at the way it was going, but Chelsea showed that they wanted me.

"I have heard a lot about Mourinho and I know he was important in the deal.

If it had not been for his insistence the transfer might not have gone ahead."

After flirting for months with Del Horno and Milan's Georgian leftback Kakha Kaladze, Mourinho finally made his choice last night.

By Chelsea's prolific spending standards it is a conservative start to a summer which should yield at least two more signings.

But it is still a tidy sum for a player who has made only six appearances for his country.

Del Horno's rise to the top has been gradual rather than meteoric. Brought up in the Basque provinces of northern Spain, Del Horno joined Athletic Bilbao as an 11-year-old.

His profile in Spain has grown steadily in the last two years, particularly this season when he won his first full cap in a 2-0 victory over Belgium, but he is yet to be regarded as a first-choice in the national side.

Evidence of his willingness to break forward and attack at every opportunity is found in the five goals he scored last season, including the winner against England in Madrid in November.

But he may have to curb his attacking instincts at Chelsea. …

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