Didier Drogba has revealed how Juan Mata’s words of encouragement during Chelsea’s Champions League triumph in 2012 helped inspire him to score his famous equaliser in Munich.
Chelsea secured their first and to date only Champions League triumph eight years ago, beating Bayern Munich in a penalty shoot-out at the Allianz Arena.
The Blues, guided by interim coach Roberto Di Matteo and without suspended captain John Terry, were a goal down in the final thanks to Thomas Muller’s header as the Bundesliga giants looked on track for victory.
Up against the clock and the partisan crowd, Chelsea found an equaliser with their first corner of the game as Mata’s delivery was met by Drogba’s bullet header at the near post with just a minute to go.
It all came down to penalties after a gruelling extra-time period and while Mata saw his spot-kick saved by Manuel Neuer, Drogba successfully dispatched the winning effort.
Eight years on from the most famous night in Chelsea history, Drogba took to social media to recall the moment he begged Mata to help him leave Stamford Bridge on a winning note.
“Eight years ago, the manager [Andre Villas-Boas] had been sacked by the club and we, the players, had a team meeting where we recognised being partly responsible for his departure,” Drogba tweeted.
“The captain @johnterry spoke, @franklampard @petrcech and other leaders in the group too.
“We decided to all give this competition everything, despite our defeat 4-1 against Napoli.
“We had been chasing this trophy for eight years and couldn’t do better than [finish as] runners up. Everyone agreed to put egos aside and challenge each over for the same goal.
“After that meeting, I asked a young 23 years old @juanmatagarcia: ‘Please maestro, help me win the Champions League’. He looked at me like ‘man you’re crazy, you’re Didier Drogba… you are going to help me win it’.
“I then told him ‘I’ve been here for eight years and never won it. So I believe you’re the one who’s gonna help us win. I’ll even give you a present if we win it’.
“That was end of February. Three months later, we were in Munich, in the final, in their stadium, submerged with a red wave.
“The hosts took the lead with eight minutes to go and on my way to kick the ball for the last eight minutes I was so discouraged, the young man [Mata] said to me “believe Didi, you have to believe”. Almost in tears, I answered after looking at the time: ‘Believe in what? It’s almost over’.
“I’m [thought I was] going to cry like a few months ago when I lost the [Africa Cup of Nations] final with Côte d’Ivoire [Ivory Coast]. Last minute, last corner, I mean first corner for us against 18 for Bayern Munich.
“Guess who took that corner kick… @juanmatagarcia and the rest is history. The lesson is ALWAYS BELIEVE!!!!”
Drogba later rejoined Chelsea for the 2014-15 season under Jose Mourinho, scoring seven goals in 40 appearances as the west London outfit celebrated their third domestic title with the Portuguese.
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