As consolation prizes go, the Premier League title is a pretty good one. John Terry was sacked as captain of the national team for his infidelities, but he ends the season having lifted the most important trophy in the English game.
Terry's personal difficulties have seen him vilified from the terraces, and his form has subsequently taken a worrying dive with the World Cup just weeks away. But the Chelsea captain said that winning the Premier League was more about ending three seasons of seeing Manchester United lift the trophy, rather than exorcising any personal demons over the events of the past few months.
"Today is what it's all about, this is what I've worked so hard for all year," he said. "Forget everything else, this is about Chelsea FC. It's been a hard three years not winning the Premier League but it's ours today, we deserve it. Nothing could have made me more determined to win the trophy. I've been hurting inside for three years seeing Man United [lift it] – and I promise you every one of us has sat there and watched it. It's their turn to sit there and watch today."
Terry promised that Chelsea are now intent on matching United's achievement of a hat-trick of Premier League victories. "We've got it back now and we need to do what Man United have done and maintain it for a few years," he said.
It was a theme echoed by the manager Carlo Ancelotti, who has matched the achievement of Jose Mourinho by winning the title in his first season. The Italian said: "After the first year, I hope to stay here a long time and win a lot of titles. I think that this club will have a good future because these players are not so old and we have a very good squad, for next year and the years after."
Chelsea's 8-0 demolition of Wigan gave the champions a record 103 League goals for the season, and Terry hailed Ancelotti's success at liberating the team's attacking talents.
"Carlo has brought great calmness and a great atmosphere. He gives us a free spirit to go out and play as we want to. Tactically we know what we've got to do but he leaves it down to us to play our own game," Terry said.
Ancelotti in turn paid tribute to his captain but he then revealed that other senior players had shown the initiative when Terry could not. "A lot of times, he was the most important player on the pitch and showed good character. It's not difficult for me to say he was the leader on the pitch, but a lot of my players showed fantastic character."
The champions' medal was also particularly sweet for Ashley Cole, who moved from Arsenal in 2006 expecting to win the Premier League but has instead watched Manchester United's hat-trick of titles. The England left-back said: "Hopefully now everyone will get off my back and realise why I came here."
Didier Drogba's sealed the Golden Boot as the Premier League's top scorer with a hat-trick, but only after he threw a ridiculous hissy fit when Frank Lampard refused to let him take a penalty. With the score 1-0 Drogba wanted the chance to move ahead of Wayne Rooney in the goal charts, but Lampard refused, telling him: "The team comes first."
Drogba, who ended with 29 Premier League goals, later admitted his mistake, saying: "I was disappointed. We were 1-0 up and I wanted to score, but I had to get over this frustration in the second half and come back. We played so well I knew I'd have some chances to score for sure. I wasn't happy at first, but I know I was making a big mistake. He was right."
Ancelotti added: "It was my decision, if there was a penalty, to give it to Lampard. I told him to stay calm and quiet because he'd have opportunities to score in the second half. I said: 'Quiet. You can score in the second half.' I am a magician."
Drogba could not resist a dig at United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who said last summer that Chelsea were too old to maintain a title challenge. The 32-year-old said: "For a team that's supposed to be too old, we can be proud of what we have achieved today."
Lampard admitted this title victory, after the triumphs of 2005 and 2006, was particularly precious. The England midfielder said: "We've had little ups and downs along the way. The first two titles we won relatively easily. They were very special because they were the first ones, but with the difficulties we've had this year, that was very special."Reuse content