Aubameyang reveal what he learned from Ronaldo while training with him as Chelsea star prepares for Milan reunion

The Aubameyang family has a special relationship with AC Milan. It’s the club at which father Pierre Francois – who earned 80 caps for Gabon – worked as a scout. The club for whom eldest son Catilina and second-born Wily both made first-team appearances. And the club youngest son Pierre-Emerick joined in 2007.

Unlike his older siblings, Pierre-Emerick didn’t crack the senior side at San Siro. It feels something of a quirk given his innate goalscoring ability and undoubted talent. Yet scan the Rossoneri attack for the 2007/08 campaign and it quickly becomes apparent why.

Kaka, Filippo Inzaghi, Alberto Gilardino and Alexandre Pato were all in situ. And there was also Ronaldo. The Brazilian legend, one of the greatest players of all time, was at the tail-end of his career in Europe and cut a rather different figure – both literally and metaphorically – than in his prime. But he still made a lasting impression on the youngest Aubameyang.

“To tell the truth, he was a bit fat by then but he was still the best,” Aubameyang, who will face Milan on Wednesday night with Chelsea in the Champions League, recalls with a trademark smile.

“I will always remember when Carlo Ancelotti had a go at him about his fitness. He asked, ‘What do you want me to do, run or score goals?’ Ancelotti replied, ‘score goals’. In the next game, Ronaldo scored twice! That is part of the character and as a striker, you need that confidence because you have to be strong mentally.

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“I was just a young kid among all those stars, just playing and training. I was just trying to get as much as I can and pick up all these things in my career. At that time, the team was really strong. Ronaldo, [Paolo] Maldini, [Alessandro] Nesta. I was very young and that is why I chose to go on loan for a few years.”

Those loans took Aubameyang to Dijon, Lille and Monaco. A permanent move to Saint-Etienne followed in 2011 and two years later, he arrived at Borussia Dortmund. It was with the Bundesliga side that the forward established himself as one of the best in European football.

Goals were scored and a trophy was won under Thomas Tuchel; the man who played an important role in Aubameyang joining Chelsea this summer but is no longer head coach at Stamford Bridge. That role is filled by Graham Potter – and he has the responsibility to guide the Blues out of their Champions League group.

Defeat to Dinamo Zagreb and a draw at home to Red Bull Salzburg have left Chelsea in a difficult position in Group E. It’s why the doubleheader against Milan has taken on added importance. The Serie A champions will visit Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening and Aubameyang is expected to start after he struck his first Chelsea goal in the win over Crystal Palace.

For the 33-year-old, these high-profile matches became elusive. Arsenal failed to qualify for the Champions League during his time at the Emirates and his eighth-month stay at Barcelona saw the La Liga giants competing in the Europa League rather than at the top table of the European game.

“I have them [Champions League matches] back again so I have to show what I am capable of doing,” Aubameyang says. “When you are a striker you just want to get that first goal as soon as possible and it came so I am really happy.”


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