The heritage of the Blues boss and his former team-mates gives immortal standing to the side which enjoyed their first and only success in the contest.
Frank Lampard’s story will be eternally intertwined with that of Chelsea because it was he who raised the Champions League trophy following the main victory in the club’s long and illustrious history.
Since the former midfielder frequently says himself, the 2012 Champions League final win over Bayern Munich represents his finest hour as a participant; a success that Blues fans will sing and talk about forever.
Indeed, they enjoy telling their Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City Presents: “Champions of Europe; you won’t ever sing that!”
This week, however, Chelsea will face Bayern Munich again, only now with Lampard as their supervisor. It’ll be the most crucial test of his training career thus far. Going to the last-16 tie, the Blues are arguably much bigger underdogs than they were eight decades back.
The Chelsea of today is a really different side to the Chelsea of 2012. Roberto Di Matteo’s group was packed with club legends, but they had been approaching the end of their careers.
Lampard himself was 33, Ashley Cole 31, and Didier Drogba 34. The latter, of course, decided the match in Chelsea’s favour. Drogba not just netted a dramatic late equaliser in the Blues’ first corner of the match, he also transformed the winning spot-kick from the penalty shootout.
The Ivorian still can not quite believe what happened that night in Munich.
“Did you know I was going to do this in 2012? I didn’t. Even me, I did not understand,” Drogba said.
Drogba might have dominated the headlines but Lampard also played a pivotal role.
When he finally emerged from a joyous Chelsea dressing room to fulfill the press at two in the morning, Lampard had a beer in hand. And a pleasant one at that.
A pure No.8, the England global was used as a holding midfielder along with John Obi Mikel because of the absences of Raul Meireles and Ramires and aided the Chelsea defence repel wave after wave of Bayern strikes.
“Can I just say something to my little women? My little girls are back at home. I told you Chelsea were the best group in the world and tonight we’re. Get in!” A jubilant Lampard roared on Sky Sports following the game.
Mikel will never forget that night.
“We’re the first London club to win the Champions League, and we will be the first players to win the Champions League for Chelsea. Those memories will never go away,” the Nigerian told Target.
“I can remember the night in Germany, it was totally insane. Doing so for the fans was absolutely awesome.”
Chelsea faced 35 shots and 20 corners in the Allianz Arena. But roared by 17,500 fans, they fought their way into the unlikeliest of victories over a Bayern side that had the advantage of playing with the final in their own arena.
But Chelsea believed that their name was on the cup that year, and with good cause. They had chased a 3-1 first-leg deficit to beat Napoli in the last 16 and upset Barcelona from the semi-finals at the most incredible of situation.
Chelsea were down to ten men after John Terry’s dismissal and trailing 2-0 at the night, and 2-1 on aggregate, as half-time approached in their second-leg battle with the Blaugrana in Camp Nou.
Ramires, however, bagged a precious away goal just minutes before the break and, after Lionel Messi had sensationally missed a second-half penalty, Fernando Torres famously reserved the people’ place in Munich by finishing a stunning breakaway in the dying moments.
The current Chelsea squad comprises several players that were only just taking their first steps towards the first team at Cobham Training Centre when the club raised the trophy that Roman Abramovich had been craving for so long.
Academy goods Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Reece James were boyhood Chelsea supporters. Tomori still remembers where he was when Drogba & Co. silenced Munich.
“I was really in my friend’s house with my mum,” the defender said. “It got to half-time and we were 30 minutes away from our home, so we had to drive half time.
“We missed the first 15 minutes of the second half after which Thomas Muller scored but Drogba equalised. When they moved on to win it, I recall my buddy called me immediately and he was just crying down the telephone.
“I had been playing for Chelsea and I had been so satisfied. I saw my friend the next day; he was buzzing and I was buzzing.
“I remember when my father first went into a Chelsea game. We were sat literally near the tube and me and my father were looking at each other and we were like,’They do not look real, they do not look like real people, they seem like robots’
“Back then, it was surreal but today you find these folks on a regular basis, so you realise that they are regular people and it’s kind of sunk in now.”
Lampard will have hammered that home to his young charges. Anything is possible for the ones that work hard enough.
Chelsea and Lampard demonstrated that in 2012; maybe they can do this again.