LAMPARD: GREATEST NIGHT
Frank Lampard hasn't exactly been starved of success during his Chelsea career, but the midfielder, who has three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two Carling Cups to his name, insisted in the wake of our Champions League victory over Bayern Munich that this was as good as it gets.
Lampard, who skippered the side in the absence of John Terry, joined the club back in 2001, and has been an integral part of a side which has gone so close on so many occasions in the biggest club competition of them all.
He scored the equaliser in Moscow four years ago in the game which we went on to lose against Manchester United after a penalty shoot-out, a result which made this triumph all the more memorable.
'It's very difficult to put into words. If you win it regularly, as Barcelona do, I'm sure it still feels great,' he said. 'But to come so close so many times and then to win it feels incredible, you should have seen the dressing room, it was just amazing.
'In football terms this is the one we wanted to win, it's the biggest club competition in the world and we've won it tonight. Barcelona was tough as well, but after the situation we were in at the start of the season nobody would have expected this which makes it even more incredible.
'It's the most amazing feeling in football. We've been very close before and reached quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final, so the fact we've come so close makes it all the more exciting.
'To win on penalties against a German team, a lot of people spoke about it before the game because we never do it, but we dug in, showed spirit which we've done throughout the competition and we're champions.'
Not only did the win ensure we lifted the trophy for the first time in our history, we also became the first London club to win the competition, confirming our place in next season's tournament at the expense of Tottenham Hotspur, a side managed by Lampard's uncle Harry Redknapp.
'It's amazing, London's a great football town, but to be the first club to do it is great,' he admitted.
'With all the fans that travelled out there, the atmosphere was amazing, even outside our hotel today you could feel it. This tops the lot, they're all great but this tonight, with the circumstances of the season, is unbelievable.
'There's big rivalry in London, there are great teams and we're the first to do it. There's a bit of sympathy for Spurs, I'm not a Tottenham fan, far from it. I grew up a West Ham fan, I play for Chelsea and now I'm Chelsea through and through, but Harry's done an amazing job there, he doesn't deserve that for the job he's done, but we did a professional job and you can only think about yourself.'
In terms of our performance against Bayern Munich, it was far from vintage. Following a poor first-half display in which we struggled to create any real goalscoring opportunities, we improved slightly after the break, but the writing appeared to be on the wall when Thomas Muller headed the hosts in front with less than 10 minutes remaining.
It's testimony to the strength of character among the players, however, that we refused to cave in, and Didier Drogba, so often the man for the big occasion, forced extra-time with a powerful header, before Petr Cech saved two penalties in the shoot-out, leaving Lampard to pay tribute.
'At 1-0 down with seven minutes to go, the clock was ticking, but that's when you need your big players and Didier Drogba stepped up like he does all the time,' said Lampard.
'He scores in finals, semi-finals and without him we wouldn't be here. He's an incredible personality, he's an all-time great.
'People talk about whether or not this was his last game for Chelsea, but he has been an absolute hero for us. No other striker, people talk about Thierry Henry and Wayne Rooney, he's right up there with them, it's about scoring in the big games and he does it all the time.
'I've got a lot of belief in Petr Cech,' Lampard added. 'He's announced himself as number one goalkeeper in the world if we didn't already know that, to do what he did. Our hearts were in our mouths a few times but the spirit at this club is amazing.'
Our route to the game was littered with drama and controversy, and it would have surprised nobody connected with the club that the final itself went right down to the wire.
The greatest night in our history, it's been called, and few would argue. From the moment we turned around a 3-1 deficit against Napoli in the second round, to that unforgettable night in Barcelona, we certainly haven't done it the easy way.
As finals go, playing a team in their own stadium is probably as difficult a task a side is ever likely to face. Lampard believes we deserve great credit for seeing it through, and singled out two men in particular for the overall triumph.
'It was in their home ground, the players know the stadium and there were more Bayern Munich fans, so it was a tough game for that reason, but we won,' he said. ' It feels brilliant because every year we've got to semi-finals and the final and never won the competition. Every year you want to win it more, you have to keep believing, and the feeling when the last penalty went in was amazing.
'Roberto [Di Matteo] has been brilliant whatever happens. When he took over we were struggling in the league, we'd been beaten by West Brom and who would have thought we'd be where we are now, so he has to take huge credit for that.
'Roman Abramovich, we wouldn't be where we are without him pumping in the money and doing what he's done. It's been a long journey, a tough one. When he came in we were a good domestic club, fourth in the league, but he's took us to a new level with the investment he's made and he deserves this.
'We have a huge spirit in the squad and quality players who can win games. To come back from 3-1 down against Napoli, to beat Barcelona who are the best team in the world and then to win against Bayern Munich in their own stadium is very special.
'It's huge, we've been fantastic in England, winning the league and cups, but we wanted to win the Champions League and now we've done it.'