Lampard played a key role in Chelsea’s miracle in Munich in 2012 – so can he upset Bayern again?
The legacy of the Blues boss and his former team-mates gives immortal status to the side that enjoyed their first and only success in the competition
Frank Lampard’s story will be forever intertwined with that of Chelsea as it was he who lifted the Champions League trophy after the most important triumph in the club’s long and illustrious history.
As the former midfielder regularly says himself, the 2012 Champions League final win over Bayern Munich represents his finest hour as a player; a victory that Blues fans will talk and sing about forever.
Indeed, they revel in telling their Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City counterparts: “Champions of Europe; you will never sing that!”
This week, though, Chelsea will face Bayern Munich again, only this time with Lampard as their manager. It will be the most significant test of his coaching career to date. Going into the last-16 tie, the Blues are arguably even bigger underdogs than they were eight years ago.
The Chelsea of today is a very different side to the Chelsea of 2012. Roberto Di Matteo’s team was packed with club legends, but they were approaching the end of their careers.
Lampard himself was 33, Ashley Cole 31, and Didier Drogba 34. The latter, of course, decided the game in Chelsea’s favour. Drogba not only netted a dramatic late equaliser from the Blues’ first corner of the game, he also converted the winning spot-kick in the penalty shootout.
The Ivorian still can’t quite believe what happened that night in Munich.
“Did you know I was going to do that in 2012? I didn’t. Even me, I didn’t know,” Drogba said in an interview last season.
Drogba may have dominated the headlines but Lampard also played a pivotal role.
When he eventually emerged from a joyous Chelsea dressing room to meet the media at two in the morning, Lampard had a beer in hand. And a well-deserved one at that.
A natural No.8, the England international was employed as a holding midfielder alongside John Obi Mikel due to the absences of Raul Meireles and Ramires and helped the Chelsea defence repel wave after wave of Bayern attacks.
“Can I just say one thing to my little girls? My little girls are back at home. I told you Chelsea were the best team in the world and tonight we are. Get in!” a jubilant Lampard roared on Sky Sports after the game.
Mikel will never forget that night either.
“We were the first London club to win the Champions League, and forever we will be the first players to win the Champions League for Chelsea. Those memories will never go away,” the Nigerian said.
“I can remember the night in Germany, it was absolutely crazy. Doing it for the fans was absolutely amazing.”
Chelsea faced 35 shots and 20 corners at the Allianz Arena. But roared on by 17,500 fans, they battled their way to the unlikeliest of victories over a Bayern side that had the benefit of playing the final in their own stadium.
But Chelsea felt that their name was on the cup that season, and with good cause. They had overturned a 3-1 first-leg deficit to beat Napoli in the last 16 and upset Barcelona in the semi-finals in the most incredible of circumstances.
Chelsea were down to 10 men following John Terry’s dismissal, and trailing 2-0 on the night, and 2-1 on aggregate, as half-time approached in their second-leg clash with the Blaugrana at Camp Nou.
Ramires, though, bagged a precious away goal just moments before the break and, after Lionel Messi had sensationally missed a second-half penalty, Fernando Torres famously booked the visitors’ place in Munich by finishing a stunning breakaway in the dying minutes.
The current Chelsea squad contains several players who were only just taking their first steps towards the first team at Cobham Training Centre when the club finally lifted the trophy that Roman Abramovich had been craving for so long.
Academy products Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Reece James were all boyhood Chelsea supporters. Tomori still remembers where he was when Drogba & Co. silenced Munich.
“I was actually at my friend’s house with my mum,” the defender told Goal. “It got to half-time and we were 30 minutes away from our house, so we had to drive at half time.
“We missed the first 15 minutes of the second half and then Thomas Muller scored but Drogba equalised. When they went on to win it, I remember my friend called me immediately and he was just screaming down the phone.
“I was playing for Chelsea and I was so happy. I saw my friend the next day; he was buzzing and I was buzzing.
“I remember when me and my dad first went to a Chelsea game. We were sat literally next to the tunnel and me and my dad were looking at each other and we were like, ‘They don’t look real, they don’t look like real people, they look like robots.’
“Back then, it was surreal but now you see these people on a regular basis, so you just realise they are regular people and it has kind of sunk in now.”
Lampard will have hammered that home to his young charges. Anything is possible for those that work hard enough.
Chelsea and Lampard proved that in 2012; maybe they can do so again.