With Chelsea set to head to their second UEFA Champions League final, where they will meet Manchester City at FC Porto’s Estadio do Dragao on Saturday 29 May, it appears to have been the perfect opportunity for one of their 2012 winners to share a story about what happened in the lead up to the night.
Of course, the 2011/12 season for the Blues was one that was far from perfect to begin with, as Andre Villas-Boas was dismissed in the middle of the campaign after a torrid start, which then led to Roberto Di Matteo to come in as boss and look to turn things around.
Chelsea were facing elimination from the UEFA Champions League as they had been decimated by SSC Napoli in Italy 3-1, in a game in which the boss was questioned by Roman Abramovich – via Michael Emenalo – about his team selection after leaving Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Michael Essien out of the starting XI.
A manager known to wear his heart on his sleeve given his recent situation at Olympique de Marseille, Villas-Boas did not last too long, thus Di Matteo was given the chance to turn things around when the Italian side came to visit Stamford Bridge.
However, it seems a number of players in the dressing room took some of the responsibility for the Portuguese manager’s dismissal, as Didier Drogba outlined in a detailed thread on Twitter just what had happened, as well as revealing that he turned to a then-23-year-old Juan Mata to help him win the UEFA Champions League.
“Eight years ago, the Manager [sic] had been sacked by the club and we, the players had a team meeting where we recognised being partly responsible for his departure,” Drogba wrote.
“The captain [John Terry] spoke, [Frank Lampard] [Petr Cech] and other leaders in the group too.
“We decided to all give this competition everything, despite our defeat 4-1 against Napoli.
“We had been chasing this trophy for eight years and couldn’t do better than runner up. Everyone agreed to put egos aside and challenge each over [sic] for the same goal.
“After that meeting I asked a young 23 years old [Juan Mata] ‘please Maestro, help me win the champions league’ he looked at me like ‘man you’re crazy, you’re Didier Drogba you are gonna help me win it,’ I then told him I’ve been here for 8 years and never won it.
“[So] I believe you’re the one who’s gonna help us win. I’ll even give you a present if we win it, that was end of February.”
“Three months later, we were in Munich, in the final, in their stadium, submerged with a red wave.
“The hosts took the lead with 8 minutes to go and on my way to kick the ball for the last 8 minutes I was so discouraged, the young man said to me ‘believe Didi, you have to believe’, almost in tears I answered after looking at the time score ‘believe in what? It’s almost over.’
“I’m gonna cry like a few months ago when I lost the final with Cote d’Ivoire. Last minute, last corner, I mean the first corner for us against eighteen for Bayern Munich.
“Guess who took that corner kick… [Mata] and the rest is history. The lesson is ALWAYS BELIEVE!!!!”
As history would have it, Mata would play a huge role in helping Drogba to win the UEFA Champions League with Chelsea, as his corner would land on the strikers head and give them the goal to take them to extra-time minutes after Thomas Muller had put Bayern Munich in front.
Of course, the Blues would go on to win the penalty shoot-out – with Mata being the only Chelsea player to miss – as Drogba netted the winning effort, something many looking for the best odds on sportfogadas.net would have been looking for.
Chelsea might require extra-time and penalties when they meet Manchester City in the upcoming final on 29 May, and whilst there isn’t any player from the team that was involved in 2012, many may look at Drogba’s tweets as a source of inspiration and hope it works for them, as well.
Indeed, Thomas Tuchel and Thiago Silva have recent experience in a final, having lost last season’s, but they have a good record against the Citizens this season, so perhaps a repeat of 2012 may be on the cards for the Blues.