May 19, 2023, marks the 11th anniversary of arguably the greatest night in Chelsea’s history.
The Blues were crowned European champions for the first time in 2012, defeating Bayern Munich at the German giants’ home stadium to complete one of the most remarkable cup runs in football history.
Nobody gave Chelsea a hope of winning the Champions League after losing 3-1 to Napoli in the Round of 16 first leg, three months before the final.
The west London outfit were in disarray under 34-year-old Andre Villas-Boas, who was sacked a couple of weeks later.
Roberto Di Matteo was installed as caretaker manager until the end of the season and Chelsea somehow went on to beat Napoli, Benfica and, most impressively of all, Barcelona under the Italian coach’s guidance.
The mighty Bayern Munich awaited Chelsea in the final – and the English side, who were without their talismanic captain John Terry, were expected to fall at the final hurdle.
It appeared to be game over when Thomas Muller broke the deadlock in the 83rd minute, but a dramatic late header from Didier Drogba sent the game to extra-time.
Petr Cech then went on to save a penalty from former Chelsea winger Arjen Robben before the final was eventually settled on penalties.
And it was Drogba who calmly stepped up to score the decisive spot-kick, sparking wild scenes of celebration in front of a stunned Bayern Munich.
The sound of that final whistle must have been pure relief for Terry, who famously slipped while taking a penalty against Manchester United in the 2008 Champions League final and was suspended for the 2012 final after receiving a needless red card against Barça in the semis.
But his decision to wear full kit for the post-match celebrations – boots, shin pads, sock tape… the works – was derided by football fans and is still mocked today.
Frank Lampard defended John Terry for wearing full kit in Munich
Years after the final, Terry was asked why he wore full kit in Munich by Holly Willoughby while appearing on comedy game show Play to the Whistle.
“Now, that did cause a bit of a stir, the reason being: you didn’t actually play in the final because of suspension and you took a little bit of stick wearing the kit for the presentation,” Willoughby said, before asking Terry: “How did you feel when all that unfolded afterwards? What was your reason for doing that.”
The retired defender laughed awkwardly and knew that further stick was coming his way, particularly with the likes of Bradley Walsh and Romesh Ranganathan in the vicinity.
Walsh joked: “JT, you’re amongst friends here, be honest: no-one’s gonna take the p***. Not even Romesh, who’s an Arsenal fan.”
At this point, Lampard raised his hand and interjected before Ranganathan could speak. Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer defended his ex-teammate in a moment that sums up the man’s class.
“Can I answer first,” the Premier League icon said, “because it’s not easy for John to say, right.
“Two major things. First, social media these days, it all exploded because of jealous people who didn’t like the fact that Chelsea won it, John won it, blah blah blah.
“Secondly, he was our captain for ten years before that roughly, so if he’d have wanted to go up in his Speedos and pick it up, he could have done what he liked.”
Watch the clip here:
Great stuff from Lampard.
You can tell from the look on Terry’s face that he thoroughly appreciated Lampard’s heartfelt words.
Furthermore, Lampard had made a perfectly valid point.
Terry always gave 100 per cent every time he pulled on the blue shirt and captained the Blues, with distinction, during the more successful period in the club’s history.
Did it really matter that he celebrated the greatest night in Chelsea’s history while wearing full kit like his teammates?
Certainly not in Lampard’s eyes.