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Last Updated: Friday, 17 February 2006, 10:06 GMT
Baldwin back at the Bridge
By Vicki Hodges

Pat Baldwin
Baldwin joined Chelsea as a 10-year-old
Colchester defender Pat Baldwin will return to the club where he learned his trade when he revisits Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup fifth round on Sunday.

The Chelsea of 2006 are light years away from the club that Baldwin left in 2002, but he's looking forward to catching up with the old faces that remain.

The 23-year-old who spent 10 years as a Chelsea trainee told BBC Sport: "I can't imagine the place to have changed that much since I left.

"The backroom staff are practically the same so it will be nice to see them and catch up with some of the players that are still there.

"It's going to be a really good occasion and personally a special one for me too."

John Terry
Frank Lampard
Eidur Gudjohnsen
Robert Huth

And there is one certain face Baldwin is relishing meeting up with again - that of the Blues' assistant manager Steve Clarke.

Baldwin said: "Steve Clarke was my youth team manager in my final year there and I was lucky to be his captain.

"It was fantastic to work really closely with him, he's got bundles of experience and I was delighted to see him take up the assistant manager's role at the club."

We are aware that we have a very slim chance of causing an upset, but none of the boys like to lose.
Pat Baldwin

In fact, Baldwin still feels total gratitude towards the club that gave him his first breakthrough in football - even if they were to turn his back on him after almost 10 years of his service.

"They gave me a great foundation for me to build my career on," Baldwin said.

Hernan Crespo, Frank Lampard and Eidur Gudjohnsen
Baldwin will be lining up against some familiar faces on Sunday

"Robert Huth and Carlton Cole were in the same youth team as me, while other players like John Terry, Frank Lampard and Eidur Gudjohnsen were all there at the time.

"But I think I took the fact I was training alongside these fantastic players for granted and didn't have time to reflect on my surroundings and situation until I left."

Now his allegiance, though, lies firmly with League One high-flyers Colchester - the club that gave him his second chance.

"When I got released by Chelsea, I didn't think I had a future in the game. I had a few trials and nothing came of them until I had a trial at Colchester who then offered me a contract and it's been brilliant ever since."

And while Baldwin is gearing up for arguably his biggest game of his career on Sunday, he knows win or lose there is still much to look forward to this season - including the possibility of scooping the double.

"We are aware that we have a very slim chance of causing an upset, but none of the boys like to lose.

"But if we are beaten, our season is far from over. We're in a great position in the league and LDV Vans Trophy final (they are through to the area final) but the league remains the priority.

"We want to get promoted this season and whatever happens on Sunday we'll have our feet on the ground and looking to progress."

Chelsea v Colchester
16 Feb 06 |  FA Cup


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