Chelsea Superstar admits: “It has been the toughest season of my career”, thanks players and Antonio Conte

Willian has spent much of his fourth season as a Chelsea player not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

The Brazil international should only be experiencing feelings of joy right now given he lifted the Premier League trophy with his Chelsea team-mates on Sunday and could add the FA Cup to the collection at Wembley in two days’ time.

But Willian is still coping with a tragic loss in his personal life, the death of his beloved mother Donna Zee from a brain tumour back in October.

It had a detrimental effect on the 28-year-old’s health and his football. Only in the last few months has he been starting to feel like his old self.

As he explained to Standard Sport: “It has been the toughest season of my career. Everyone knows what happened to my mother.

“It was very hard to play football after my mother passed away. I was so emotional and physically I didn’t feel good.

“I lost weight, around 4kg. I was still eating similar things, but I didn’t know what was happening.

“Of course there were occasions I didn’t want to eat because I was thinking about things so much. It was the stress of what I’d been through, mentally I didn’t feel well.

“Now it feels like there have been two sides to the past year. One was very difficult, but the other side has been amazing because Chelsea have won a trophy and we hope to add another.

“I feel like the sun is shining again. I still have to go day by day, but I always try to look forward, not behind.”

Willian, who is a devout Christian, added: “I had so much help, firstly from God, Jesus Christ, my wife and two daughters, my dad, my sister and friends.

“But my team-mates and everyone at the club were great with me also. They did so in little ways, with a hug or just by talking to me. They would give me the words to help me be strong and it was important for me.

“I spoke with the coach and he was very supportive. He sent me a message when it first happened and did other things to get me through it.

“I was given the time to come back, to recover. After one or two months I started to play again, started to play well. I want to thank everyone so much.”

This is just another factor in why Willian isn’t interested in swapping Stamford Bridge for Old Trafford this summer.

Chelsea can not only satisfy his personal ambitions, but have become like another family for him.

After being named by the club’s supporters as their Player of the Year 12 months ago, a combination of his personal problems and Pedro’s improvement in form, has seen Willian regularly named on the bench.

But he has never complained and simply focused on working hard to get back in the team instead. Significantly, now that the worst of the mourning period is over, the attacking midfielder’s displays have improved.

Indeed, he has five goals in his last 12 appearances, which includes a crucial brace against Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-final victory.

“I do feel like I’m ending the season playing well,” he said. “I hope to be a threat to Arsenal as well.”

Some opponents have chosen to man-mark the Belgian following that derby victory – Manchester United used the tactic to good effect in particular last month.

But Willian isn’t concerned if Arsenal follow suit and said: “Eden can decide the game for us, he has the quality to do that. But he doesn’t play alone, he needs the whole team to help him.

“If Arsenal try to just stop Eden, we have Diego Costa, Pedro, myself – all the ones up front can make the difference.

“Of course they have great players too, so we have to be ready as well. Guys like Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez can make a difference for them. We have to keep our eyes on these players.”

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