Exactly eight years after winning the UEFA Champions League with Chelsea, Ivory Coast legend, Didier Drogba has narrated his experience during the final of the competition.
Chelsea’s 2011/2012 campaign was almost in shambles after Andre Villas-Boas was sacked midway into the season in March 2012.
A resurgent Blues, however, overturned a 4-1 first leg quarter-final deficit against Napoli, before defeating competition-favourite, Barcelona to pitch them with Bayern Munich in the final of Europe’s elite club championship.
In the final played at Bayern’s Allianz Arena, the German side, expectedly, enjoyed a lion’s share of possession and were rewarded with a goal by Thomas Muller in the 83rd minute.
While recalling the Champions League win on May 19 2012, Drogba said in a post on his official Instagram handle that he had given up after the Bavarians netted their goal.
Even though the situation on the pitch that night looked gloomy, teammate, Juan Mata was still optimistic, the Ivorian legend narrated.
According to Drogba, Mata told him he had “to believe” his side can turn the game around.
The former Galatasaray star was to later grab Chelsea’s equaliser and forced the game into extra time after heading home a corner from Mata. And in what many Blues’ fans describe as the London side’s most glorious moment, Drogba scored the winning penalty in the shootout to hand Roberto Di Mateo’s men the trophy.
“Eight years ago,” Drogba began in his post, “the manager had been sacked by the club and we, the players, had a team meeting where we recognised being partly responsible for his departure.
“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 4-1 defeat against Napoli. We had been chasing this trophy for eight years and couldn’t do better than the runner-up. Everyone agreed to put egos aside and challenge each other for the same goal.
“After that meeting, I asked a young 23-year-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 eight years and never won it, so I believe you’re the one who is gonna help us win. I’ll even give you a present if we win it.’ That was the end of February.”
Narrating further, he said: “Three months later, we were in Munich, in the final, in their stadium, submerged with a red wave. The hosts took the lead with eight minutes to go and on my way to kick the ball for the last eight 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 was gonna cry like a few months ago when I lost the final with the Ivory Coast.”
“Last minute, last corner, I mean the first corner for us against eighteen for Bayern Munich. Guess who took that corner kick… Juan Mata. And the rest is history. The lesson is ALWAYS BELIEVE!”
See Drogba’s post below: