Abramovich realises his great dream
Joy for Russian billionaire who sees his huge investment finally repaid in thrilling circumstances
Sunday 20 May 2012
Chelsea are European champions for the first time after Didier Drogba's winning penalty capped an incredible night at the Allianz Arena.
Just four years after losing out to Manchester United in a shoot-out in Moscow, Drogba kept his nerve to claim the final 4-3 on spot-kicks after it had finished 1-1 following extra time. Nine years after taking over the club, Roman Abramovich finally got his hands on the trophy he wanted most, and his well-paid players earned every penny. Crucially,not only have they secured their place in the history books by becoming the first team from the capital to win Europe's premier club competition, but they have also secured their place next season, with Tottenham now dropping into the Europa League.
It was against all odds that Chelsea beat Bayern at their own ground, having been two minutes from defeat when Drogba headed their equaliser. Even Frank Lampard could hardly credit it. "I can't believe it," the midfielder said. "The season we have had, the determination and spirit we have shown... Our main man Didier Drogba has dug us out there. He is a hero. Without him we are not here. He scores the goals in the big games. This is the one we really wanted."
Drogba felt victory was inevitable. "It was [fate], I believe a lot in destiny," the Ivorian striker said. "I pray a lot. It was written a long time ago. God is wonderful. This team is amazing. I want to dedicate this Cup to all our managers and players before." Of the equaliser he said: "It changed the game mentally. I'm very happy. Life is fantastic."
John Terry, one of four Chelsea players to miss the final through suspension, got changed into his Chelsea kit to join the celebrations. "The lads were fantastic," he said. "When our backs are against the wall we step up to the mark. You look at that trophy and that's what we have wanted and what the owner wanted, and Robbie [Di Matteo, the interim manager] has been superb. We have won the FA Cup and the Champions' League and he can't do any more than that. It was do-or-die, win the competition or we would not have been in it next year, and that was enough to motivate us."
Di Matteo himself would only say of his chances of becoming manager on a permanent basis: "I won't talk about it now. I just want to enjoy the moment."
Goalkeeper Petr Cech, who saved a penalty in extra-time from Arjen Robben and one in the shoot-out, said: "It was a roller-coaster ride. Today I faced six penalties and six times I went the right way."
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