Howard faces Chelsea in the FA Cup this weekend and told the Guardian: "I had three or four months there, training with the first team and it looked like I'd be signing but then Roman Abramovich arrived and began buying the best players in the world.
"I think at the time I went to Stamford Bridge they were struggling a bit financially. Claudio Ranieri was manager and had the idea of signing up promising young players but Roman Abramovich soon changed all that.
"At first it came as a bit of a shock to see just how hard those players worked and all the extra effort they put in. People like Zola stayed behind after training and put in a lot of extra hours which is something I do now. Most afternoons I'll either work on something like shooting or be in the gym. The big thing I learnt at Chelsea was that hard work really pays off."