Four years after losing the Champions League final to Premier League rivals Manchester United in Moscow, Chelsea was faced with an even daunting task of beating Bayern Munich in Germany.
The Allianz Arena, home ground of Bayern Munich had been picked for the final in 2012 long before the Bavarians even reached the final. But all of this won’t matter, they had all the advantage and everything in their favor; while Chelsea had to travel about 706 miles to the venue of the final, the Germans only had to catch a ride from their homes to the meet-up point. It couldn’t have been easier.
And so it was, with a flurry of chances, they heaped a pile of pressure on Chelsea so much it was obvious that the only thing that matters is when, not if, the North Londoners will break. And break they did.
When Thomas Muller put the ‘hosts’ ahead with six minutes left on the clock, even the most optimistic Chelsea supporters must have given up hope of a revival. Well, maybe all except Didier, who until that point had managed only a shot – a really audacious attempt from about 45 yards at the start of the second half.
But with two minutes left of regulation time, Drogba scored a thumping header, what would record as Chelsea’s second shot on target on the night, but in truth, it felt like the only shot all game.
Having stretched the game into extra time, barely 10 minutes after scoring what looked like the most important goal in Chelsea’s history, Drogba clumsily fouled Frank Ribery in the box. Penalty!
The hero that looked like he was bowing out in style a few minutes ago was just about to cost the club. Shivers down the spine of Chelsea supporters who also watched as John Terry slips in Moscow four years’ prior had sent them on another chase of European glory when they had been just a kick away. Could it be déjà vu all over again? You can’t write these sort of scripts.
And although Petr Cech came to the rescue, saving Arjen Robben’s kick from 12-yards – that wasn’t the only time he pulled off such magical move on the night – Drogba ultimately saved the day when it mattered most. When all that stood between Chelsea and European glory were Manuel Neuer and the woodwork, Drogba beat all four obstacles, sending Chelsea through.
What a remarkable night!
But the Legend ‘Didier Drogba’ can’t possibly be described by a single European night, he was a constant menace for every defender. His sheer strength and ability to protect the ball made him a nightmare for every team he faced. And he had a knack for finals, his record reads 10 finals, 10 goals. The ultimate big game player. Did I add 10 trophies? Yes, add that. Beat that!
Drogba didn’t enjoy the privilege of starting out early, by the time Chelsea signed the Ivorian in 2004, he was 26 and had only played two seasons of top-level football but Jose Mourinho saw the potential in him and showed extraordinary confidence in the player, and for nine years Drogba was a menace.
He would wreak more havoc as a lone forward than most teams pulled off with two attackers, and it wasn’t just his big game performances that set him apart, his consistency over the course of a season is incredible. The desire of mere mortals.
A two-time Africa Player of the Year, and perhaps he would have won more but for the quality, he was up against every year. His trophy-laden career is possibly tainted by the absence of a Continental crown with Ivory Coast, but Drogba, The Legend, is still an ‘elephant’.