'This is my club and I love it': Branislav Ivanovic explains why he left in 2017 despite strong Chelsea tie
- Ivanovic left in February 2017 when it became clear Conte didn't rely on him.
- At 32, he didn't want to sit on the bench and joined Zenith St Petersburg.
- In his head, Chelsea will always be his club, 100%.
Branislav Ivanovic spent nine years at Chelsea, almost all fabulous. It was tough at the start and at the ending.
Speaking to The Athletic's Liam Twomey, the ex-Blue recalls his final season: "When Antonio [Conte] came we started OK, then we lost a couple of games, he changed the shape and I didn’t play anymore."
Conte took the league by storm with his 3-5-2. Chelsea went on an unbeaten streak, but Ivanovic would only receive his winner's medal in an envelope, so to say.
"I wanted to leave because I was thinking that at 32, I didn’t want to sit on the bench," he adds. "I felt I could play more at a high level, so I made the decision to leave."
Bano heads it home and Chelsea win the Europa League:
However, the Serbian holds no grudge against his former club.
He says: "This is my club and I love it. The club will always stay in me and I will always be part of Chelsea in my head, 100 per cent. I’m so proud and happy to have had the opportunity to be part of the best club in the world."
Ivanovic won 3 Premier League titles with the Blues, a Champions League, a Europe League in which he scored the deciding goal in the final seconds against Benfica in 2013.