An appearance today in the Carabao Cup final leads to memories of a League Cup final win back in 2005, the first trophy under the ownership of Roman Abramovich. It was also the first major trophy in the career of Joe Cole.
Ahead of today’s final against Manchester City, the official Chelsea website spoke to our former midfielder about the Carling Cup final as it was known 14 years ago, and about beating Liverpool 3-2 after extra-time…
Joe, as well as that 2005 game being the first final under the new ownership and your first final, it was the first at Chelsea for Jose Mourinho and the club overall had not won a trophy for over four years. How big an occasion did it feel?
‘It was the be all and end all at the time. To win anything in your career you have to be very lucky, plenty of footballers don’t, so you have to respect it and the day was amazing. It is still one of my fondest memories as a player, winning that trophy. It was really exciting.’
We had been flying that season and were on course to win the Premier League for the first time, but the League Cup final came off the back of an FA Cup loss at Newcastle and a 2-1 defeat in the first leg of a Champions League tie away to Barcelona…
‘It came at a difficult time. We had signed Jiri Jarosik and he came into the side for the final and winning the game could not have come at a better time because it gave us a boost. From there we kicked on and it was a relief more than anything that with all the money the club had spent we had won some silverware.’
The game was played at Cardiff and the roof was on…
‘There was an amazing atmosphere. What a stadium! Wembley is great and it has its history but Cardiff with the roof on was as good an atmosphere as I have experienced. Jose falling out with the Liverpool fans during the game was the first of those moments and it all added to the drama and the spice of the game. It think it is one of the fondest remembered League Cup finals in recent times. People remember it, especially Chelsea fans.’
We went behind after only one minute!
‘We were much better than Liverpool at the time but on their day they were our rivals, they were a very good team and when John Arne Riise scored you thought it is not going to be our day, but we absolutely battered them for the whole game and we should have got back into it earlier.
‘The best team won but we left it late and what a way to do it. They were set up really well to defend but we were probing and probing and it was going to take something like Stevie Gerrard’s own-goal to get us back in the game, either something catastrophic for them or something special by us. Fortunately for us but unfortunately for Stevie, it was a player trying to do the right thing, trying to take charge, but the ball hit his head and just went in.’
In extra-time Didier Drogba grabbed the lead with what was the first of what we were not to know then would go on to be a huge catalogue of cup final goals…
‘He was the man for the big games. There is no doubt about that. He is one of the greats of the club and in the big games at the big moments, you always look to people like that.’
Mateja Kezman had a difficult season at Chelsea but he came on to score the third goal that day and everyone seemed very pleased for him…
‘Kezza was a good guy but he was struggling in front of goal. That was what he was there for, to sniff out chances and that sort of game suited him when the ball was flying around the box and dropping here and there. He could poke it away and we were really happy for him. It comes early in the season that final so to get a medal, it gives you a right boost.’
With other targets in sight that season, were you able to celebrate much?
‘We all went out as a team for a meal on the Fulham Road which was lovely but we had the second leg against Barcelona coming up. We were brilliant in that and personally, I don’t think we would have won that game if we had not won the League Cup, that is how important that was.’