Didier Drogba: The man who shook the Arena

Drogba ran to the side and threw himself onto the ground,to be buried for minutes under a frenzied pile of his blue-shirted team mates.

Written by Associated Press | Munich | Published: May 21, 2012 12:53 am

Didier Drogba went through the full range of emotions on a night when he delivered the first Champions League title to Chelsea,in perhaps his last match for the London club.

Drogba’s dramatic,perfect header in the 88th minute leveled the final at 1-1 and sent it into extra time. He then gave away a needless extra-time penalty that was saved by Petr Cech from Arjen Robben,before driving home the final spot-kick in the shootout that clinched the title.

Drogba ran to the side and threw himself onto the ground,to be buried for minutes under a frenzied pile of his blue-shirted team mates. He then took off his shirt and ran to the opposite side of Bayern’s Allianz Arena,prancing in front of jubilant supporters. It may well be the last time he took off the blue jersey to celebrate a Chelsea win — his contract with the club expires next month and Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay is scheduled to speak to his agent about a new contract next week.

On Saturday,though,all that was too far ahead in future. After the celebration,Drogba held Cech in a long embrace,thanking the Chelsea goalkeeper for saving his — and Chelsea’s — night with his save of Robben’s penalty. “When we have this guy in goal you have to believe,’’ said Drogba.

“It was written,I think,a long time ago. I want to dedicate this cup to all the managers we’ve had before,all the players I’ve played with before. They (Chelsea players) never give up until the end. This team is amazing.’’

Drogba was on his knee,praying in the middle circle as Bastian Schweinsteiger walked to the spot to take Bayern’s last penalty. Schweinsteiger hit the post with his low shot and Drogba then stepped up for the decisive effort.

No frayed nerves

Facing the hostile home crowd and Manuel Neuer,the Bayern goalkeeper who had already saved Juan Mata’s first shot,Drogba looked calm. Neuer’s routine before each shot is to jump up and down,shake the crossbar in an intimidating way and then keep jumping as the opponent prepares to shoot. Drogba remained calm,took a short run-up and drove the ball inside the right post,sending Neuer the wrong way. And Chelsea had the title it had been trying to win ever since Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003. “We didn’t play fantastic but Didier dug us out of trouble there,’’ said Frank Lampard,who was Chelsea’s captain for suspended John Terry. “He’s a hero. Without him we’re not here. He scores the goals in the big games.’’

Drogba was still on the field long after Saturday had turned into Sunday,kissing and hugging anyone who happened to come by,including photographers. As “London is Calling” by the The Clash shook the Allianz Arena from the powerful sound system,Drogba was still celebrating.

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