Didier Drogba was a striker for Chelsea Football Club…one of their best.
The piece that follows was written in 2012.
(2012) So can Chelsea win the Champions League? Not likely because the team have to beat the mighty Barcelona.
Everyone within earshot of a teenage fan probably knows that Barcelona are Europe’s football giants – no-one can touch them, not even England’s finest, and England’s finest, according to most pundits, are not Chelsea.
At least, that’s what we think…but something changes in London in April when the team, under a caretaker manager, play Barcelona.
The result stops football short. There is one goal, and it’s scored by Didier Drogba of Chelsea. An impossible belief is born.
Slowly the ripples of interest spread beyond Chelsea’s fans. The nation begins to take note. A British underdog team has earned the right to head to Germany to take on the mighty FC Bayern Munich in its own Allianz Arena.
The statistics are daunting.
Bayern has won the Champions League four times – Chelsea never.
Bayern has been runner-up five times – Chelsea once.
The teams meet on the 19th of May in front of 66,000 fans.
The home crowd spread their banners out early: “our city”, “our stadium”, “our cup”. All goes well for them until a few minutes before the final whistle when, with the score in their favour at 1-0, Didier Drogba scores to equalise. Now, at 1-1, the game is forced first into extra time, and then on to penalties.
The slow motion stress begins.
Bayern’s first penalty thumps passed Petr Cech.
Chelsea’s first penalty attempt is a failure.
The odds look impossible.
Bayern Munich is like a shoot-out machine. So confident is their goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, that he even has the nerve to stroll out and take a penalty shot for his team. It slams home and might have sealed the game…but it doesn’t.
Cech, the Chelsea goalkeeper, does not wilt. He holds his nerve for save after save, and slowly Chelsea climb back up the scoreboard. The team who refused to give up against Barcelona, now refuse to give in to Bayern. The penalty scores heart-stop to 3-3.
Step forward Didier Drogba – his turn for Chelsea, and his club’s chance to win, for the first time ever, the Champions’ League trophy. All Drogba has to do is to kick a small ball into a not-very-big net that is guarded by one of the world’s greatest goalkeepers, and that happens to be in front of the thousands deep home crowd of the Allianz Arena. No pressure.
The man from the Ivory Coast steps up to take the shot. The ball spins forward, hanging on the hopes of millions…and easy as blue to the sea, it hits the target.
Chelsea win the Champions League. Against all the odds they do it.
And whose name is on these triumphs?
Didier Drogba – the man who made it happen.
Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2019