“He’s done it!! The greatest night in the history of Chelsea Football Club. European Champions. They’ve beaten Bayern in their own backyard. They’ve found the holy grail. After adventure, fraught with danger.” – Martin Tyler’s description of the historic moment in Munich.
These are the words that ring in every Chelsea fan’s mind when they think of Munich, of the magnificent Allianz Arena, where we witnessed one of the biggest, most historic nights of Chelsea Football Club. Here I shall talk about two great, unforgettable nights that bring back amazing memories for us whenever we look back upon them. Nights when, much like London, even Munich was blue.
Bayern Munich vs. Chelsea, Champions League Quarter-Final (2005).
Let’s have a bit of throwback to begin with. Its 2005, our Chelsea team is in the Champions League Quarter Final. Jose Mourinho is in his first term as Chelsea manager. The first leg was played at Stamford Bridge, where we took a huge advantage by winning 4-2 courtesy of a brace from Frank Lampard, one of which was THAT magical Frank Lampard goal which is one of my personal favourites, with a perfect turn and finish from inside the box, and goals from Didier Drogba and an own goal by Lucio.
The second leg was to be played in Munich, with manager Jose Mourinho watching on from his hotel room, because of his dismissal and ban for his touchline antics against Barcelona at the Nou Camp. Bayern had two away goals and the chance of a comeback was on. The first scare of the game came early on with a shot from Pizzaro, but Cech blocked it well. Later, Schweinsteiger carved a chance out of nothing. But it was all in vain when Frank Lampard broke the deadlock by taking a shot from far out, and a deflection sent the ball home. We knew we were going through. However, Bayern were looking for redemption and kept their momentum up and got themselves back in the game with a goal from Pizarro. But after a spell of Bayern pressure, Drogba scored again 10 minutes before full time, and cemented Chelsea’s semi final spot. And despite Bayern scoring two more goals late on, the victory on that night for Bayern was ultimately a triumph for the Blues, who were through 6-5 on aggregate. A triumphant European night in Munich – definitely not the last time we were feeling that, right?
Champions League final, Bayern Munich vs. Chelsea (2012).
This is it, this is the big one. As Martin Tyler said at the beginning of the match, this was one of the biggest nights for some of those Chelsea players’ careers. The 2008 Champions league final loss to Manchester United still loomed fresh in our memory, and the elusive European glory still did not seem forthcoming. Chelsea were the clear underdogs as they had not really had the best season under an interim manager, our captain and other important players were suspended, and Ryan Bertrand was getting his first start playing on the wing against a prime Bayern Munich- in their own backyard, in front of their own fans. It looked like it could be a long night for us. I was practically sweating the whole time before the match, trying to keep my nerves and my excitement in check. We were the underdogs, but because of the way we had reached the finals, I could not resist the hope that was flowing into my mind at the time. I sat down in front of the TV wearing my lucky Chelsea jersey, and I did not move from my spot. I was nervous, but we hadn’t conceded yet, so I stayed in the same position that I was sitting in. The shots kept coming in, Bayern kept going, the pressure was on all of us, but somehow we kept surviving. Then, late on, the ball was crossed in to Muller whose header went into the net, and I was heartbroken. I thought, surely, surely this was it. There was no way we were sneaking this one-sided game away from them now. I kept watching as we had a few futile efforts at building an attack waste away. Then, in the 88th minute, Drogba rose powerfully to turn that Mata corner into the net. Frenzy. We had somehow survived. Somehow, we had risen out of the ashes again. The full time whistle was blown. Extra time was upon us. I could see the body language of the Bayern players had changed. I could see us believing that we could take the cup home tonight. Drogba then gave away a penalty in extra time. Arjen Robben stepped up. I couldn’t look. “Cech saves!” I heard, and I breathed again. Something was happening. The stars had aligned for us that night. It was down to the lottery now. Flashbacks of that night in Moscow, and that slip from Terry kept playing in my mind. I hoped that this would be different. Mata missed our first kick after Lahm scored theirs. The pressure was mounting again. Penalties started going in, and none of them looked like missing. Even Manuel Neuer scored a confident penalty. Then stepped up Ivica Olic, and Cech saved it, after which Cole put us back on level terms. Pressure was back on them. Schweinsteiger was up next. He stepped up and took it, and the ball, as if in slow motion was fingertipped on to the bar by Cech. This was it. Somehow, we had managed to put ourselves one penalty kick away from the UEFA Champions League trophy. My heart was in my mouth, and so were all my fingernails. Nervousness, anxiety, pressure, excitement, and a sense of anticipation, all in one single moment. Drogba stepped up, and scored without any hesitation. All I remember after that is running around my house at 3:30 AM trying not to yell while pumping my fists, and then coming back to my TV and watching the celebrations. I watched a fully dressed-up John Terry lift the trophy at the Allianz Arena, and let the fact that we were finally European champions sink in. It was the greatest night in the history of Chelsea Football Club for me as a fan, and for countless others. “Champions of Europe, we know what we are.”
Munich was blue that night.
“Hahahahaha Tottenham finished fourth and we still knocked them out of the Champions League? London is blue.” – Petty me, the morning after Martin Tyler’s description of the historic moment in Munich.