Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech has described the prospect of Jose Mourinho returning to the club as "fantastic".
The flamboyant Portuguese boss is expected to take charge at Stamford Bridge for a second time this summer after it was confirmed he is to leave Real Madrid at the end of the Spanish season. Mourinho won two Barclays Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups during his three-year spell at the club between 2004 and 2007.
Cech, who arrived in the same summer as Mourinho nine years ago, said: "He is a great manager and I think everyone remembers how successful we were with him as a manager. If he could reproduce that it would be fantastic."
Yet despite looking forward with optimism, Cech is saddened that the reign of interim manager Rafael Benitez is coming to an end. The Spaniard takes charge of the Blues for the final time as they face Manchester City in the second of two lucrative post-season friendlies at Yankee Stadium in New York this weekend.
Benitez has overcome huge fan hostility since succeeding Roberto di Matteo to leave on a high after winning the Europa League and securing third in the Barclays Premier League.
Cech, 31, said: "I think he has done a very good job, obviously, having won the Europa League and qualified for the Champions League. I think this was the aim, and to try to do as best as we could. He worked hard from day one and tried to do the best for the club. In the end he is leaving with a European trophy, which is great for him."
Defender David Luiz, who has excelled at times under Benitez, also paid tribute to the Spaniard, whose past associations with Liverpool made him a reviled figure among supporters on arrival.
The Brazil international said: "He has done a great job at Chelsea. He has had a lot of pressure. He has shown character and that he is a professional. I am so happy we won a title and qualified directly for the Champions League."
Luiz added that he was excited about the prospect of being managed by Mourinho, who has also won the Champions League with Porto and Inter Milan.
Luiz said: "Everyone says positive things about him and everyone knows about his qualities. He has done a great job in many clubs in the world, like Chelsea. We would be excited to work with an experienced coach like that."