Jose Mourinho has once more heaped praise on Didier Drogba ahead of Real Madrid's Champions League clash with Galatasaray.
Mourinho and Drogba shared a winning partnership at Chelsea, with the pair helping the Blues to their first league title in 50 years in 2005 and also claiming the Premier League crown the following season.
The Portuguese coach departed in 2007 but Drogba continued to claim silverware at Stamford Bridge, culminating in helping Chelsea hold aloft the Champions League trophy for the first time in their history by scoring the winning penalty.
Since then the Ivory Coast striker has joined Galatasaray following an aborted spell in China with Shanghai Shenhua, while Mourinho joined Inter Milan, guiding the Italians to Champions League glory in 2010 before departing to join Real Madrid.
Ahead of Madrid's quarter-final tie with Galatasaray, Mourinho, who previously described Drogba as the best player he had ever managed, said he shares an 'emotional connection' with the 35-year-old.
"Dider Drogba was a great player for me, a great friend and someone that will stay in my life forever. We created emotional links that go further than football," he told reporters at a press conference.
While Drogba was his talisman at Chelsea, Wesley Sneijder, now with Galatasaray, was central to Inter Milan's charge for European glory.
"[Wesley] Sneijder and Drogba have been important players for me in the past," Mourinho continued. "But tomorrow they will be my friends, not the players in my team."
The former Porto coach was also full of kind words for Galatasaray as a team.
He added: "We have our objectives for tomorrow but so do they. I want to win. Our opponents want to win.
"They have a great coach with experience of games at this level and so [he] feels comfortable. He is not afraid of playing here. He has players who have played in the best teams in the world, players who are calm when it comes to playing in the quarter-finals of this competition.
"Drogba, Sneijder and Burak [Yilmaz] could play for any team in the world."