A trophy that few have won, yet many wish to attain is the Champions League trophy. Players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Robert Lewandowski have played in this tournament, however, several clubs have yet to hoist it for the first time.
For each club that has achieved this great triumph, there was a long and difficult path to win the Champions League. One such club is Chelsea FC. Prior to Roman Abramovic’s purchase of the club back in June 2003, Chelsea managed to win trophies such as the FA Cup, Football League Cup and UEFA Winners Cup, though they weren’t successful in winning Champions League.
A new journey began when Abramovic officially became the new owner of Chelsea Football Club. It gave the team a new identity, philosophy and path moving forward. More importantly, it gave fans hope, that not only that they could compete against the bigger teams in the Champions League, but that Chelsea could finally contend to win this prestigious tournament.
During the Abramovich era, Chelsea has managed to have plenty of success come their way. He’s instilled a winning mentality which has brought triumph to this club. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the Blue, where players such as Andriy Shevchenko, Adrian Mutu and Juan Sebastián Verón, failed to meet expectations. However, the likes of of Didier Drogba, Eden Hazard and Claude Makélélé have been able to leave their mark and help this club become successful.
In May 2008, nearly five years since Abramovic purchased the club, Chelsea were in a situation that no one had imagined in their history. The club, managed by Avraham Grant, had made it to finals of Champions League, which was to be played in Moscow at Luzhniki Stadium after they defeated Liverpool 4-3 on aggregates in the semi-finals. An English club was standing in their path as their bitter rivals, Manchester United, had advanced to the finals after their win against Barcelona.
Unfortunately, the match ended 1-1 after extra time and Chelsea lost 6-5 in a shoutout.
Four years later in May 2012, the club found themselves in a similar position. They were, once again, in the midst of trying to win their first Champions League trophy. This time their opponent was the German powerhouse club, Bayern Munich. Unlike their meeting against Manchester United, their match against Munich needed guts, determination and the will to never give up.
Chelsea was managed by Roberto Di Matteo and had players such as Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Ashley Cole. They were a part of the team when they lost in 2008 and were hoping to not follow the same path. With the score 0-0 and nearly tens minutes remaining, Chelsea conceded the first goal as Thomas Müller scored at the 83rd minute to give Munich the first lead of the match. Chelsea seemed destined to follow a similar path.
Five minutes later, with Chelsea fans nervous and frantic for that needed goal, they redeemed themselves. Drogba rose to the challenge, as he had done on multiple occasions throughout his career with the club. The striker scored one of the biggest goals in his career, as he found the back of the net at the 88th minute to tie the game at 1-1.
The match headed into extra time, which didn’t solve anything for either side and they needed penalty kicks to decide their fate. With their backs against the wall and Munich leading 3-1 in the shootout, the improbable happened for Chelsea. The Blues changed the script, as they won 4-3 in penalties and won their first Champions League trophy.
The wait was over and fans were out of their seats cheering in a frenzy as Chelsea also became the first and only club from London to win Champions League.
Chelsea’s all-time leading scorer, Lampard, will always look back on this moment.
In a UEFA Q&A, Lampard said, “I had lots of ups and downs. We tried and fought to get to [Champions League] finals, we lost one, and then the culmination of that, to win at Munich, and to win in the circumstances we did – as underdogs in their home stadium. The ride we’d had to get there was crazy; it was the stuff of movies.”
“When anyone asks me about my career, I cannot help but have that as the moment that jumps out at me; that’s what the Champions League is.
“If I’d have finished my career without that on my CV, I would have certainly felt incomplete, and I think this club would be incomplete.
“To win the Champions League as Chelsea, the first London club to do so, is something we’re all proud of.”
The long wait for a Champions League trophy ended and there were celebrations all over London. For certain players such as Lampard, Drogba, Cole and Petr Čech, the feelings were much greater as they developed a relationship with the club. More importantly, they had a connection with the fans after being with the club for several years.
Now we look back to eight years ago and relish the moment which became a reality for all Chelsea fans, the night when Chelsea hoisted the Champions League trophy. For the players, it will be a game that they will never forget as their comeback and the events which occurred throughout the match, will go down as one of the best in the history of football.￼