'It's crucial to put the first European Cup in the club cabinet'
Saturday 19 May 2012
Beating Barcelona doesn't dislodge his debut goal, his Fans' Player of the Year award or the FA Cup final win from Juan Mata's three high points of the season, but he agrees in terms of drama it was unmatchable.
"Ramires's goal gave us life," he says. "At half-time the message was that we could do it. The manager told us that we had done the hardest part, which was to score a goal at the Nou Camp with a man less. If Ramires hadn't scored when he did I don't think we would have gone through. To go in at half-time, losing 2-0 and with a man less, I think Barcelona would have grown. There's a reason why that goal was voted goal of the season by our supporters."
Mata was substituted late in the game as Chelsea looked to protect what they had. He had suffered during the match sacrificing his natural game of running with the ball to running without it, and he would suffer even more as a nervous spectator.
"I had a terrible time of it in the last 15 minutes," he says. "I was convinced that they were going to beat us. You see the chances – the penalty, a shot against the post, you see that they are getting closer and you think 'they're going to score, we're going out'. It was horrible for those of us on the bench.
"I was very nervous, alongside Gary the kit man. And then when Fernando Torres got the ball and scored, we just exploded. And when the final whistle went, I ran straight for him because he deserved it. It's a lovely feeling at the Nou Camp to see our supporters up in the top tier celebrating and happy, as the rest of the stadium empties."
And he knows how the players who played the last final in Moscow were feeling. "To have the chance to remove that thorn in the side is great. And it's not just them – the club, Roman, everyone. It's important to put the first Champions League in the trophy cabinet."
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