CHELSEA striker John Spencer returned to Hong Kong yesterday - and spoke of how his season in the territory had helped him develop as a person and a player. The 23-year-old forward, who arrived with his teammates for tomorrow's exhibition match against the Hong Kong League XI at the new national stadium, spent the 1989-90 season with Hong Kong First Division club Lai Sun on loan from Glasgow Rangers. He finished the campaign with 22 goals before going back to Glasgow, earning a GBP450,000 transfer to Chelsea two years later and then playing in last Saturday's English FA Cup final against Manchester United. ''It's great to be back,'' said Spencer yesterday. ''I've been telling all the Chelsea players what a fantastic place this is and I have nothing but happy memories from my time here. ''I owe a lot to Hong Kong for turning me into a better player. When I came here I was 18 years old, going on 19, and I realised there were a lot of talented players around. ''I knew I had to get down to the nitty-gritty and, being on my own, it helped me grow up as a person and a player, virtually overnight.'' Spencer was allowed to leave Rangers on loan by the manager at the time, Graeme Souness. ''Sometimes I wonder if Graeme Souness was setting me up, finding out if I could keep my head screwed on, on and off the field. It was like he was putting me to the test,'' added Spencer. ''I've been praying for this moment for four years - to go back to Hong Kong with my club. Rangers don't usually go on end-of-season tours so there was no chance with them but now it's happened with Chelsea. ''Coming over here the other players were all sleeping but I just couldn't get to sleep. I was pacing up and down and couldn't wait to get back. I've still got a few friends here and I know some of the players we'll be up against on Sunday.'' One of his former teammates at Lai Sun, right-winger Lee Kin-wo, has moved on to captain Eastern and the Hong Kong national team and has been voted Hong Kong Footballer of the Year for the past two seasons. ''I'm delighted he's done so well,'' said Spencer. ''I always thought he had the talent but maybe needed that push and that bit of confidence to bring it out. ''I think loads of the players in Hong Kong could play anywhere. They have the ability but it's more about if they've got the attitude to go away from home and have a go.'' Spencer said his biggest disappointment since leaving Hong Kong in 1990 was last Saturday's 4-0 defeat by Manchester United in the FA Cup final at Wembley. ''After that game I felt as though I never wanted to play again. It was like someone had torn my heart out. ''I didn't even want to go up and collect my medal. But I'm still young enough to go back there and make it a winner's medal.'' Spencer's lifestyle has changed dramatically over the years. In the build-up to the FA Cup final, he featured in a special profile by The Sun newspaper, in which he revealed he lived in a four-bedroom detached house (''rented,'' he pointed out yesterday) with his wife and baby daughter in Hertfordshire and drove a BMW 525i. ''I was living with my mum and brother in Glasgow five years ago. When I told my mum I was going to Hong Kong she burst into tears; she thought I was never going home. ''I have had the big move and things have looked up since I left Hong Kong; it's like going up a staircase.''