Following on from yesterday’s discussions about his exploits in Europe with the Blues, captain John Terry today looks back to more recent history, from 2008 until 2012…
Yesterday took us up until the frustrations of 2007. Next was 2008, where we beat Liverpool over two legs for the first time…
That was a very special night for us too. With Frank scoring the penalty, it was a very emotional one. There was a lot of tension, and to this day I don’t know how he managed to get up that night and score that penalty. He is an unbelievable character.
Then came Moscow, which you were a major doubt for going into the game…
In the last league game I was carried off with an elbow injury. I was told it would be three or four weeks. I look at it now and I wish it had been three or four weeks, because maybe we would have won it. I really do. I’ll never forget what happened after it, and 99 per cent of those bad memories were erased in Munich, because the fans and the club and the players all deserved it. We had our ups and downs, but we went and did it in the end.
Going back to Moscow, I remember it being a good game. I still want to erase the memories because of how it ended, but I didn’t feel comfortable from the start, coming up against a side in Man United we knew so well from playing every week.
In the game, they really tired towards the end. We were saying to keep pushing, they were struggling with cramp a lot. Didier hit the post, then got sent off, and then penalties. If he hadn’t been sent off he’d have had the fifth penalty, I wouldn’t have been among the five takers. It wasn’t meant to be that time.
Do you feel the same way about losing to Barcelona in 2009?
I didn’t feel that way at all at the time. It was bizarre. To see it with your own eyes, having seen some of the penalties that do get given in the Champions League. I still remember Michael Ballack’s reaction at the end, but I can’t bring myself to look back at it and laugh. People forget you work your whole career for these games and competitions, fans travel all over the place to see it. Referees will make mistakes, but they were blatant penalties. You can’t forget it.
Finally after some underwhelming exits came 2012. You’d played a big role leading up to the semi-final, particularly with that header against Napoli, and the first leg against Barcelona…
I’d travelled to Napoli knowing I was going in for knee surgery the day after, just to give them the wrong idea about who would be playing. It didn’t work because they beat us 3-1! I then had my knee op and was back in three weeks. Everyone had written us off, but the night before the game at the Bridge I did the press conference and Robbie Di Matteo and I were brutally honest, and we came out of there believing we could turn it around. People were coming for us and giving us a bit of stick, but we weren’t prepared to let another year pass us by.
After that, being honest, I was in tears in the dressing room in the Nou Camp. Things were just unravelling as they scored and then again, but then Ramires scored and we tightened up and I remember thinking we could do it, that we would do it.
How much do you remember of the celebrations in Munich?
The celebrations were brilliant. Didier got up on the table and gave a great speech, Roman was in there, everyone. Those memories from behind the scenes, with the trophy, there’s nothing like it. You wait your life for it, and you sit there, and you have to really gather yourself, eyes watering. I was taken away by the whole night.
Big Pete got drug tested, and wasn’t in the celebrations. I’d like UEFA to look at that if possible, because he couldn’t be with us. He was the hero of the night, saved a penalty in the game, three in the shootout, and then couldn’t celebrate with us. We waited so long for him to go to the toilet, and we didn’t get back to the hotel until about three o’ clock in the morning. By that time everyone was drained, it wasn’t a huge party. But memories of the pitch and the dressing room are amazing.
Does it hurt that you weren’t playing?
Ideally you want to be playing. But I felt I still had a massive part. I had so much stick for having my kit on, but from the start we were all going to do that. Those pictures are for life and we didn’t want to be there in our tracksuits. We felt we’d played a big part. The boys on the night were superb, but we were in the build-up, part of that history, and nobody can take that away.
Finally, a few quickfire questions. Has European football changed since your debut in 1999?
In a word, yes. It’s got quicker, much like the Premier League has. Everywhere is a tough game now. Teams have wised up to the big Champions League nights.
What is your favourite European away ground?
What was the best Chelsea team performance in Europe you remember?
The whole of 2012, I can’t pick one.
And your best personal performance?
One of the earlier Barça games. I always enjoyed testing myself against the best players and would always pick those as the highlights for me.