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The Men Who Became Gods - The Chelsea Champions League Story

“Conquer Europe" - that was the goal. No one stated how this would be achieved and what it would take to achieve this. The oblivion ...

“Conquer Europe" - that was the goal. No one stated how this would be achieved and what it would take to achieve this. The oblivion being the foundation, going into every battle as the underdog many came and saw but not one reached the top. Later, there emerged the golden generation. There is no appropriate comparison in any sport how unlucky and heartbreaking it was for them.
It had been a string of misfortune and near misses; the penalty shootout at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, The penalty shootout at Anfield in 2007, the one hundred and one clear penalty shouts that were ignored by Tom Henning Øvrebø before Iniesta's late goal. Five semi-finals in six years and no medal to show for it.
When Chelsea lost to Manchester United in 2011, many said it was the last attempt to win the Champions League. Petr Cech was 30, Drogba was 34, John Terry 32, Lampard 34, Essien 30 a pretty aged squad. The end maybe?
On 22nd June 2011, Andre Villas-Boas joined Chelsea signing a 3-year deal. In August, Oriol Romeu, Romelu Lukaku and Juan Mata joined too. The intention was to have a squad that would compete domestically and in Europe. In September their 4-game winning streak was ended by Manchester United. Oct - Nov Chelsea won twice in nine games. Jan - Mar Chelsea won one game in seven. This led to the sacking of Villas-Boas with Roberto Di Matteo taking over from him as the interim head coach. The crowds still filed in greeting each game with optimism as Chelsea were still in the Champions League and The FA.
Like Bilbo Baggins writing about the Fellowship of The Ring, Chelsea wrote their own story about the gods who walked among men. The manner of their victories against Napoli, Benfica and especially peak Barcelona with their club captain out away at The Camp Nou created an increasing sense that maybe this was indeed their year. Five semi-finals in six years with no fruits to show, presented itself the last opportunity. Did it just present itself though?
The whistles rang out around The Allianz Arena like a stainless steel knife on the glass. It was the noise of 62,500 fans who had come to see the making of Gods from men. Chelsea's noticeable absentees; club captain John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Ramires, and Raul Meirelles. How do you win the champions league final with a centre-back partnership that was coming back from injuries, a left-back making his Champions League debut at leftwing, and to make it worse, at your opponent's home turf?
Bayern hit the ground running. Chelsea sat deep luring their opponent into a false sense of security. Ten minutes passed, Petr Cech hadn't had to use his hands just yet but you could feel this match was Bayern's to lose. The cacophony grew as Bayern's dominance became apparent. Aren't death, taxes and Robben cutting inside from the right side the most obvious things in life? Touché! Robben cut inside, slithered into the box and curled one goalwards but Cech saw it. We all saw the best of Cech on that night. Cech was some sort of hyper powered space creature living in human form and he didn't even try very hard to conceal it. Human fingers simply couldn't do that.
Muller scored in the 83rd minute, John Terry sunk deep into his seat, and Cech almost in tears wishing this moment would not have come especially this late. The Champions League medal was once again slipping away. In this match, many saw a club that had been restricted to counter-punches. I saw warriors, I saw blood and sweat, the urge to win, the passion they had, the fight they brought to this majestic amphitheatre to defend the badge. I saw David Luiz and Cahill making deep blocks, Ashley Cole with goal-line clearances, Mikel anchoring the midfield triangle with geometric precession. It wasn't over just yet.
Bayern conceded the first corner in the dying minutes of the game. Mata swung the ball towards the near post … at that moment, as some had scarcely dared hope, I saw gods. Forget Achilles the Greek hero, Hephaestus the ugly Olympian who married the goddess of love or even the myths and legends you've ever heard of. Here stood the immortal being, a man who yearned for the top with nary a thought of improbable odds stacked against him, Didier Drogba. When the ball was swung in, Drogba got away from Boateng and BOOOOOOM the ball bounced into the vacant fields of destiny. For a moment, time stood still, all we could hear was fate whispering “this is their year, this is their year”
Chelsea conceded a late penalty that Robben missed. You don't score against your own in the Champions League final, that's a cardinal rule, Robben! The match went into extra time then penalties; memories of Moscow, Chelsea could not lose this again. They beat Bayern at The Allianz Arena. It was anything unlike we'd seen before in terms of the desire to achieve a common goal against all odds and wisdom. The greatness of that team will transcend all eras of football.
The truth is, even those at the inside Chelsea shake their heads in disbelief half-expecting to rub their eyes one morning and realize it was all a dream. From just hanging on and hanging on and staying alive until a chance comes to conquering Europe. Who could have thought?

Written by - Júan Selatse @juanselatse
Edit by - Kristen @KristenPulisic


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