Today, fans of Chelsea football club reflects on how their beloved club did the unthinkable by winning the UEFA Champions League trophy for the first time in the history of the club eight years ago. The best person to give a better perspective of how it all happened is no other than Frank Lampard, the current coach of the club and the captain of the night when Chelsea was crowned European champions.
The 2011-2012 season was not a season any football enthusiast expected Chelsea to scale through the round of 16 in the Champions League, not to talk of playing in the finals. In that season, the club was struggling in the Premier League and the poor run of games followed them to Europe.
The game seemed over for Chelsea when they lost 3-1 away to Napoli in the first leg of the round of 16. The owner of Chelsea Roman Abramovich could not stomach the defeat and the poor run of games in the Premier League, hence the coach Andre Villas-Boas was sacked. He was replaced by Roberto Di Matteo.
The new manager led Chelsea to overturn their away defeat to Napoli in Stamford Bridge by winning 3-1 and then winning the penalty shootout to seal a place in the quarterfinals.
Chelsea unexpectedly scales through Benfica and qualified for the Semifinals to face the then almighty Barcelona. Against all the odds, Chelsea knocked out Barcelona to qualify for the finals.
Unfortunately for the Blues, they had to travel to Munich in Germany to face Bayern Munich in the finals of the UEFA Champions League without their best two defenders – Gary Cahill who had an injury and captain John Terry who had a red card while playing against Barcelona.
After a dogged fight in Munich, the regular time ended 1-1 and then the two teams went into penalty shootouts. Goalkeeper Peter Cech’s Brilliance and Didier Drogba’s composure won Chelsea the UEFA Champions League finals.
Watch how Chelsea did it below:
Frank Lampard Reflection on Chelsea’s Victory
“We were aware of being underdogs, and missing huge players”, Frank Lampard said. “Robbie Di Matteo called us in for a pre-game meeting, and he actually had videos of all our family members sending good luck messages, whether it was our kids, or grans, wives, mothers, we sat there and it was tear after tear, emotion after emotion, and I thought it was amazing team management from Robbie.
“But we had something about us, and obviously we had the King in Didier. He came up with a header that nobody I think in world football could have scored, and then the winning penalty.
“Didier became a different person in those games leading up to the final. Even in the warm-up, he was caged, and that confidence rubbed off on those around him. That’s why he’s a Premier League great. He scored goals at the right moment to win his games.
“When Cech saved Robben’s penalty, I thought: ‘This could seriously be it.’ I was nervous stepping up for my penalty, and Manuel Neuer looked huge in the goal, with his arms up. I thought: ‘Side to side he’ll get this’ so I went straight for his face hoping he’d move out of the way! Straight down the middle.
“Out-of-body moment is the best way to describe it. I never felt the crowd at that point, but I did feel the pressure of the situation. It becomes a bit about you at that point.
“When Didier scored, it was chaos. The best night of my footballing life. It was an incredible night. For many a year, we’d be trying to win it, we’d lost finals, semi-finals, and it felt like the last chance for this group.”