African and world star, Didier Drogba has shared the wonderful story how a young Juan Mata inspired his match-winning heroics in the 2012 Champions League final.
Recall that Drogba was the star of the match after scoring the equalising goal and winning penalty against Bayern Munich in their own Allianz Arena eight years ago.
Celebrating the anniversary, Drogba said: “I bet you’ve all seen videos of the Champions League final so I just wanted to tell you a little story of mine.
“Eight years ago, the manager [Andre Villas-Boas] had been sacked by the club and we, the players, had a team meeting where we recognised being partly responsible for his departure.
“The captain John Terry spoke, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech and other leaders in the group too.
“We decided to all give this competition everything, despite our defeat 4-1 against Napoli.
“We had been chasing this trophy for eight years and couldn’t do better than runner-up.
“Everyone agreed to put egos aside and challenge each over for the same goal.
“After that meeting I asked a young 23-year-old Juan Mata, ‘Please maestro, help me win the Champions League.’
“He looked at me like, ‘Man you’re crazy, you’re Didier Drogba, you are gonna help me win it.’
“I then told him, ‘I’ve been here for eight years and never won it so I believe you’re the one who’s gonna help us win. I’ll even give you a present if we win it.’
“That was end of February. Three months later, we were in Munich, in the final, in their stadium, submerged with a red wave.
“The hosts took the lead with eight minutes to go and on my way to kick the ball for the last eight minutes I was so discouraged.
“The young man said to me, ‘Believe Didi, you have to believe.’
“Almost in tears I answered after looking at the time, ‘Believe in what? It’s almost over, I’m gonna cry like a few months ago when I lost the [AFCON] final with Ivory Coast.’
“Last minute, last corner, I mean first corner for us against 18 for Bayern Munich.
“Guess who took that corner kick? Juan Mata. And the rest is history.
“The lesson is ALWAYS BELIEVE. Happy eighth birthday to us.”
Photo Credit: Getty Images