A little over seven years ago, Chelsea came back from a goal down before defeating Bayern Munich on penalties in their own stadium to win the most prestigious club competition in Europe.
It was the culmination of one of the most improbable Champions League stories that the club (or any club, for that matter) has ever had on the way to winning a trophy.
As is the case with any good story, there are heroes and villains, triumph in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity and a sense that all of it was preordained. Some might even say, ‘it was written in the stars.’ But not everything on Chelsea’s road to victory went smoothly. There were hiccups, scary moments and times when even the most die-hard of fans were convinced that the dream of European cup glory had died.
One such time was during Chelsea’s second leg semi-final tie with Barcelona at the Nou Camp. Beating the five-time European Cup winners at home was already billed as nearly impossible, but after Chelsea lost talismanic captain John Terry to a red card just 36 minutes into the match, that task became even more daunting.
While making his way off of the pitch, Terry looked crestfallen as it dawned on him that Chelsea would have to play a man down for nearly an hour against an excellent Barcelona side who had just scored. More worrying still, should they win the match, they would be without their captain in the Final.
Luckily for John, the rest of the team stepped up and produced a performance for the ages, earning a memorable draw at the Nou Camp to see off the Catalan giants before progressing to the Final.
Even without Terry, Chelsea managed to take Bayern Munich to extra time thanks to a late Didier Drogba equalizer, eventually defeating the German side on penalties in their home stadium.
During their post-match celebrations, Chelsea players high-fived, hugged each other and cried. Some lay prone, some pointed to the sky in prayer. Terry, who had spent the match watching from the stands, suddenly appeared among his teammates in his full kit. Socks, shin-guards, cleats, jersey, shorts - it looked as though he’d made plans to sub himself in but hadn’t found the right time.
John Terry’s decision to wear his full kit for the post-match celebrations is one which might have seemed odd at the time, but UEFA regulations stipulate that any player who wishes to lift the trophy must be wearing their full uniform. Full kit or no full kit, Terry’s teammates and Blues supporters knew that there could have been no one more deserving of a legitimate place in that season’s Champions League Final.
Captain, leader, legend, indeed.