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LONDON, England (AFP) – Jose Mourinho captured the mood before his first game back at Chelsea against Hull City by writing in Sunday's match-day programme: "It's great to write again to my Blues brothers."
Mourinho is back among friends and the presence of the Portuguese coach in the home dug-out at Stamford Bridge ensured the anticipation that accompanies the opening game of the season was more intense than usual.
Chelsea supporters had been waiting for this occasion ever since Mourinho's re-appointment as manager was announced in June.
The feelings of the home fans were clear, with homemade banners in the crowd proclaiming 'The Special One is back' and 'Welcome Home Boss', while outside the ground, vendors selling Mourinho T-shirts were doing a roaring trade.
Unsurprisingly, it took little more than a brief mention of the manager's imminent arrival to trigger a chant of 'Jose Mourinho!' inside the west London arena, long before kick-off.
Mourinho also wrote: "I am at home again; I am where I want to be again; I am, once again, in a club that is much more than my club -- it is also a passion."
Mourinho is back at the club he led to back-to-back Premier League titles, the FA Cup and two League Cups during his first spell at Stamford Bridge between 2004 and 2007.
In between, he has enjoyed success with Inter Milan and Real Madrid, but there is no doubt where the 50-year-old feels most comfortable.
"Jose coming back in as manager has given us all a huge lift," wrote club captain John Terry in the programme.
"He created a team that brought great success to Chelsea, after we had gone so long without a league title, and it's great to have him back."
The afternoon was a double celebration, as Mourinho's return coincided with the 10th anniversary of owner Roman Abramovich's involvement with the club.
The Russian businessman has transformed Chelsea since buying the club in 2003 and he marked the occasion with a rare public statement printed on the cover of the programme.
"We have had a great decade together and the club could not have achieved it all without you. Thanks for your support, here's to many more years of success," he said.
Amid all the fanfare, Mourinho urged his side not to lose sight of the need for a strong start to the Premier League season, writing: "I celebrate my return, but this game is not a testimonial!"