Champions League 2012: Remembering Didier Drogba’s Decisive Penalty in Munich

“​Didier Drogba, I’m going to say it now, it is written in the stars.”

Those were the words that Gary Neville, with all the exaggerated cadence of his early broadcasting days, uttered as Didier Drogba strode up to the spot for the fifth and decisive penalty in the 2012 Champions League final. 

And seven years later, it is hard to argue with. In fact, the only point of contention may just be when this incredible fate was set for the Ivorian? When is anyone’s destiny sketched out? Naturally, it’s a hard thing to concretely answer, but I’d hazard a guess that Drogba’s was etched in Moscow at the same stage four years previously. 

Chelsea's Ivorian forward Didier Drogba

On that occasion, with perhaps a greater side (but not a greater team), Chelsea had faltered on penalties, and Drogba was helpless to stop it, having relinquished his right to take one by petulantly slapping Manchester United centre back Nemanja Vidic in the 116th minute. 

This forced John Terry to take the fifth and decisive penalty inside the Luzhniki Stadium and the rest is, well, a history that we’d rather not linger on. 

But, somewhere in the ashes of that tortuous defeat, a prophecy was born, one that laid out the path of redemption that Drogba would tread over the forthcoming four years. Inevitably – this is football, after all – this journey began with the prospect of a departure. 

Drogba had let the club down, and for that, the club would let him go. This proved to be unfounded, but even with his crucial goal in the following season’s FA Cup triumph, rumours of his exit reverberated even louder around the footballing stratosphere that summer, with his ​’It’s a disgrace’ outburst following the tragic Champions League semi-final loss to Barcelona supposedly the nail in the coffin of his Blues career.

Didier Drogba,Guus Hiddink

Again the rumour mills were found wanting, with Roman Abramovich and co instead opting to reward the striker with an improved three-year deal that would take him through to, yes, the summer of 2012. 

Two further FA Cup final goals and trophies followed, as well as a Premier League title (and Golden Boot), but the Ivorian’s redemptive arc was still not fulfilled.

Indeed, to ramp up the tension before this final reckoning, Chelsea made it clear that Drogba, at 34, would not be handed another contract extension beyond that summer. This was it then.

And this narrative played out in the game – a game that is simultaneously etched into our brains and remarkably fuzzy – even in the stats.  For the most part, it was a whir of ​Bayern shots, 35 to be exact, and Bayern misses – 28 of them were off target. 

At times, it felt like nothing but that air of destiny, of inevitable invincibility, was keeping Chelsea alive. At times it was the sheer willpower of David Luiz and Gary Cahill to thrust themselves in front of every shot they could. And, at times, it was just the left underside of Petr Cech’s torso.

To be honest, it’s hard to remember anything Drogba did that game that wasn’t completely indelible, because, well, there were only three real moments where he took centre stage, and all three came within a few yards of the penalty spot.

First, there was the hope-rescuing header of the 88th minute, which came from Chelsea’s sole corner of the game, compared to Bayern’s 20. Then there was the hope-trashing foul of the 94th minute that gave former teammate Arjen Robben the chance to steal it from the spot.

But even those two fade away – well, actually, that header is still the greatest I’ve ever seen – when compared with that third and final act in Didier Drogba’s final act (well…) as a Chelsea player.

You know the drill. 

Juan Mata misses the first, and the worst is feared. FCB hit their first three and the worst is nigh on confirmed. Frank Lampard then becomes just the second player ever to score in two European final penalty shootouts. Ivica Olic then teases the door back open with a lukewarm effort to his right that is well-saved by Cech, before Ashley Cole becomes just the third player ever to score in two European final penalty shootouts with a souped-up version of Olic’s effort.

Bastian Schweinsteiger then has his hesitant effort finger-tipped onto the post by an outstretched Cech, leaving a certain someone with the pen of his own destiny in his hand, and a different kind of pen required to write it.

All that was needed now was the signature. No, not the signature that would keep him at the club, but the signature that would cement his legendary legacy. The signature that would confirm his life-sentence to the annals of ​Chelsea history.

And so he stepped up to meet his destiny, with Neville reminding him of this fact as he did, and the Bayern fans desperately trying to distract him with their whistles. But then he steadied himself, and the whole world stood still, even those in the hitherto raucous Bayern end behind the goal, and waited for fate to take shape. 

But Drogba didn’t wait. As the whistle blew, he placed his left foot back before careering forward with two purposeful steps, one of which somehow also served as a stagger, before he slotted the ball with untold composure into the left-hand corner of the net, and, in half a second, history was made.

Chelsea's Ivorian forward Didier Drogba

With parity in mind, it’s perhaps fair to end with the words of Clive Tyldesley from the night’s other broadcast. Because, in an instant, Didier Drogba had delivered…

“The greatest night in Chelsea’s history. Champions of Europe at last. Champions League winners, the hard way. They’ve beaten Bayern in their own backyard, and at their own game: penalties.”


Tiemoue Bakayoko Set to Return to Chelsea as Milan Refuse to Meet Valuation

Tiemoue Bakayoko looks set to return to Chelsea due to loan club Milan’s unwillingness to pay £35m to sign the central midfielder on a permanent deal.

Chelsea signed the highly rated Frenchman for around £40m from Monaco in 2017, but his failure to adapt to the Premier League saw him shipped off to San Siro for the 2018/19 campaign.

Since then, after a bright start, he has struggled for consistent form with disciplinary problems marring his time in Italy.

Ivan Gennaro Gattuso

According to ​Calciomercato, the 24-year-old’s breakdown in relationship with manager Gennaro Gattuso and failure to hit top form has left Milan thinking twice about making his loan a permanent move.

It now looks almost certain that ​Milan will not be keeping hold of him any longer than they have to, but given how Chelsea are willing to make a £5m loss on the player, it doesn’t appear that they are desperate to keep him either.

This leaves the London club in the precarious position of having to find a suitable buyer for Bakayoko, who is willing to pay £35m for the player. ​Newcastle have previously been linked but seem unlikely to fork out the money required.


With an impending transfer ban, Maurizio Sarri may yet decide to reintegrate the player into teh Blues’ first-team squad next season. However, it seems more likely that ​Chelsea will instead try to find a buyer for the midfielder and receive an extra bit of cash in preparation for next season.


The 11 Highest Paid Managers in European Football

The definition of what a football manager is may have changed over the years, but they are arguably still the most important person at a club as it remains their job to ‘manage’ the players, oversee training and pick the team, with responsibility for results, good or bad, at their door.

Here’s a look at the 11 highest paid managers (using annual salary) in European club football right now…

Maurizio Sarri – £5m

Maurizio Sarri

When Chelsea finally secured a deal to hire ex-Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri last summer it was on a contract estimated to be worth £5m in wages each season.

Bizarrely, Sarri has been under pressure virtually ever since arriving and remains so. That is despite securing a return to the Champions League and reaching two cup finals.

Source: Evening Standard

Carlo Ancelotti – £5.3m/€6m

Carlo Ancelotti

Sarri is marginally out-earned by the man who replaced him at Napoli, former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, who is thought to have agreed a contract worth €6m per season last summer.

The Italian has at least kept Napoli steady in Serie A, securing a comfortable second place finish to ensure Champions League qualification, albeit on fewer points than under Sarri last season.

Source: The Guardian

Unai Emery – £6m

Unai Emery

Arsenal manager Unai Emery was reported to have signed a contract worth £6m per season when he agreed to take over from long-serving boss Arsene Wenger in May 2018.

So far, the Spaniard has overseen an improvement. The Gunners still finished outside the top four in 2018/19 but were seven points better off than a year ago and reached a European final.

Source: Daily Mirror

Manuel Pellegrini – £7m

Manuel Pellegrini

West Ham made a real statement when they brought former Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini back to the Premier League last summer on a contract paying up to £7m annually.

It was a somewhat mixed debut campaign for the Chilean in London, with the Hammers flirting with relegation to begin and eventually clawing their way into the top half to finish the season.

Source: Daily Telegraph

Jurgen Klopp – £7m

Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is estimated to earn at least £7m per season at Anfield, having arrived at the club in the autumn of 2015 to take over from Brendan Rodgers.

That money doesn’t make him anything like the best-paid manager in the Premier League, but it is believed to be close to double the salary he was taking home at old club Borussia Dortmund.

Source: Goal

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – £7.5m

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Manchester United are thought to be paying Ole Gunnar Solskjaer just half the salary that predecessor Jose Mourinho was earning at Old Trafford, although £7.5m still marks a vast increase on the £400,000 the Norwegian is said to have been on at Molde last year.

The question now is whether Solskjaer can prove he is worth the faith by whipping an underperforming United squad into shape in time for next season.

Source: Daily Mirror

Mauricio Pochettino – £8.5m

Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino signed a new contract worth £8.5m per season at the end of the 2017/18 campaign, committing his future to Spurs until 2023.

The Argentine has proven to be worth every penny in the first season of that bumper new deal, guiding Tottenham to a first-ever European Cup/Champions League final.

Source: Daily Telegraph

Zinedine Zidane – £10.5m/€12m

Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane walked back into the Real Madrid job in March and pocketed a hefty pay rise on the €7.5m plus bonuses he was reported to be earning during his first spell as Bernabeu coach.

This time around the four-time Champions League winner (three as a coach, one as a player) is said to be earning a net salary of €12m in the Spanish capital.

Source: El Confidencial

Pep Guardiola – £15.2m


It was not clear last year whether Pep Guardiola’s contract extension came with a pay rise, but the Manchester City boss is the best-paid manager in the Premier League on at least £15m nonetheless.

The latest gossip is that after retaining the Premier League title and completing England’s first ever domestic treble, Guardiola is in line for a bumper new deal potentially worth £20m per year.

Source: Daily Telegraph

Ernesto Valverde – £20.2m/€23m

Ernesto Valverde

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has so far enjoyed a monopoly in La Liga after winning the Spanish title in each of his first two seasons at Camp Nou, although he has fallen short in Europe.

The 55-year-old only had a contract until the end of this season until relatively recently, but he extended it in February until the summer of 2020, with the option of a further year.

Source: France Football

Diego Simeone – £35.9m/€41m

Diego Simeone

The latest contract Diego Simeone signed at Atletico Madrid was reported to have put him on a salary around that of star player Antoine Griezmann.

Having spent three years with the club as a player, the Argentine returned to the club as coach in 2011 and has crammed a lot in, wining two Europa Leagues, the Copa del Rey, La Liga and reached two Champions League finals during that time.

Source: France Football


N’Golo Kante ‘Top of PSG’s List’ as French Champions Prepare Massive Wage Packet for Chelsea Star

Paris Saint Germain are thought to be ‘determined’ to sign Chelsea star N’Golo Kante this summer.

The French giants are desperate to end their wait for a Champions League trophy and see the 28-year-old as the perfect addition in their quest to go all the way in Europe.

Ngolo Kante

Chelsea would be loathe to lose one of their most important players however, particularly as they currently have a two-window transfer ban, and would demand a huge fee for the midfielder who signed a new five-year contract with the club in November 2018.

The Daily Mirror have reported that PSG will press on in their attempts to land the France international regardless, having shelved plans to bring in Everton‘s Idrissa Gueye who they tried to sign in January.

Idrissa Gueye,N'Golo Kante

Despite Kante being on a reported £290,000 a week, it has been claimed the Ligue 1 champions would be willing to increase his wages in a bid to lure him to the French capital.

Since joining Leicester City from Caen as a virtual unknown in the summer of 2015, Kante has enjoyed a remarkable rise, winning two Premier League titles as well as the World Cup with France and PSG are keen to add his experience to their squad.

Abdoulaye Doucoure

If Les Parisiens are unable to complete a deal for the Chelsea man then they are set to turn their attention to Watford midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure.

The Hornets star has four years left to run on his current deal at Vicarage Road but has expressed a desire to play Champions League football and PSG have the money to make Watford an offer for the player they would find very difficult to refuse.


Callum Hudson-Odoi Offered Eden Hazard’s Number 10 Shirt as Chelsea Look to the Future

​Chelsea have offered Callum Hudson-Odoi the club’s number 10 shirt as part of their latest bid to persuade the youngster to stay at Stamford Bridge in the summer.

The shirt is set to be vacated by the departing Eden Hazard, with the Belgian widely expected to complete a move to Real Madrid for around £100m at the end of the season, and Chelsea are seemingly planning for life without their talisman.

With a transfer ban for the next two windows likely to be upheld, ​Chelsea must look to internal solutions to deal with ​Hazard’s departure, and it seems likely that Hudson-Odoi will be the player to step up. According to the ​Daily Mail, the Blues have offered the 18-year-old Hazard’s No 10 jersey.

Fresh talks over a new contract in west London are said to be scheduled between the club and Hudson-Odoi’s advisers this month, with European heavyweights ​Bayern Munich, ​Juventus and PSG all said to be circling the youngster.

With Hudson-Odoi having just one year remaining on his current contract at Stamford Bridge, it is suggested that interested parties may look to make cut-price moves in the summer, or even wait until January when the forward could be signed for a minimal compensation fee.

Callum Hudson-Odoi

The starlet is currently sidelined with a ruptured Achilles which will force him to miss the Europa League final against ​Arsenal at the end of May, and could yet decide to extend his stay at Chelsea.

Hudson-Odoi is said to be seeking assurances of greater first team opportunities and that the club will build the team around him in the future, with financial demands not the reason behind his reluctance to commit to fresh terms as yet.

The youngster made just ten Premier League appearances under Maurizio Sarri this season, though Hazard’s seemingly imminent departure appears likely to pave a clearer path to the first team for Hudson-Odoi.

The offer of Chelsea’s esteemed No 10 shirt would be a further incentive and another suggestion of his increased importance at the club, with Bayern Munich having previously made the similar offer of giving Hudson-Odoi the same number following Arjen Robben’s departure.