Interview

Tuchel: It brings out the very best in you

Thomas Tuchel has revealed he is relishing the ‘unbelievable’ prospect of leading Chelsea out for an FA Cup final in front of fans at Wembley Stadium.

We take on Leicester City at Wembley Stadium in tomorrow’s FA Cup final, with the opportunity to get our hands on our first piece of silverware under Tuchel.

However, there is already one reward for our making it this far in the competition, as the match will be played in front of around 21,000 fans, including 6,250 Chelsea supporters, meaning Tuchel will finally get his first experience of a Blues match in front of fans, and it is one he cannot wait to enjoy.

‘It’s unbelievable,’ said our head coach. ‘I got so used to not having spectators, maybe it will be a shock tomorrow to go on the pitch and hear some noise, but it will be so nice.

‘We are absolutely looking forward to that. The game is not the same without spectators and it’s a pure pleasure to know we will arrive tomorrow and see our fans there, see parts of our families. I think it’s a huge boost for everybody.’

For someone who appreciates the history of Wembley Stadium and it’s unique place in English, and world, football culture, the presence of fans will no doubt add to the gravity of the moment on Saturday afternoon, after Tuchel’s initial introduction to the famous old ground was at an empty one in our semi-final victory over Manchester City.

‘I remember the old Wembley Stadium, seeing it on TV. It was not so easy to see games from abroad in those days, so when I could see some of these games I could feel different shirts, different players, different atmospheres in the stadium.

‘I remember the old Wembley Stadium and of course the name of the stadium is a big name in Germany and all of Europe, so it was huge for me to have the possibility to coach a team in the semi-finals and now it’s even bigger to have the possibility in my first season to coach a final there.’

Of course, it’s not just the venue and return of the Chelsea fans that has the German excited by the prospect of taking on Leicester at Wembley, with the FA Cup trophy also up for grabs.

As he explains, cup finals always bring out a special feeling for all those involved, with the trophy within touching distance as all the hard work put in during the campaign comes down to one 90-minute match.

‘Both teams are so close and the hunger increases,’ he added. ‘The desire once you arrive in the final, you build the pressure yourself. You don’t feel so close when you start a cup competition in the first and second round. You know it’s going to be tough and you know where you want to go, but it’s not the same tension that builds up inside of you.

‘Because you are so close, the cup is right there and you know that this is the last match and you never know when it will be possible to arrive again, that builds the unique circumstances and you can feel this in the preparation, in the training, in the approach to the match and the concentration level.

‘It is different to be in a final. It’s the best thing to have in high level sport, it brings out the very best in you and you have to cope with it. It’s a big gift to have it and hopefully we can show our best performance tomorrow.’

He also feels that competing in big matches like this with a club like Chelsea, and the winning mentality that goes with it, adds extra motivation for him and his players, for this game and those still to come.

‘Once you arrive in a final with Chelsea you want to win the final and nothing else. It’s huge because it’s a final and when you are so close to a title you want to win the title. I’m not any different from any player or staff member here in that. We are Chelsea and we are about winning and want to win titles, and as many titles as possible.’

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