No Chelsea fan alive on earth will ever forget the 2012 Champions League finals nor will any football fans forget when Didier Drogba rolled his destiny-sealing penalty past Manuel Neuer against Bayern Munich in the final.
Winning the Champions League brought to a close the club’s near decade-long season to land the title, which had more exasperating near misses in it than Timo Werner’s gaffe-laden debut season in the Premier League.
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Two players of the team that won the UCL title, John Obi Mikel and Ramires (who was suspended for the final) – announced their retirement earlier this week, so we thought we’d have a little look down the memory lane to see where the rest of the team are now.
Petr Cech, who started between the sticks for Chelsea that night, saved three penalties that night but left Chelsea in 2015 after being unseated by a young Thibaut Courtois. Cech, however, didn’t leave England and saw out his playing career at Arsenal before retiring to Stamford Bridge as Chelsea’s new technical and performance advisor just a few weeks after his retirement.
The Czech legend established himself as one of the most important figures at the club, but left his role just a few days after owner Todd Boehly took over from Roman Abramovich earlier this year.
With regular right back Branislav Ivanovic suspended for the final, Jose Bosingwa was drafted in for what would end up being his final game for Chelsea.
He then had a miserable season at QPR, quitting the club after finishing rock bottom of the Premier League before seeing out his career at Turkish Super Lig side Trapzonspor, officially hanging up his boots in 2016.
Gary Cahill became the fastest player in Premier League history to win every major trophy after hoovering up all honours available to him in just over three years at Chelsea.
He was released in 2019 after being frozen out by Maurizio Sarri, joining Crystal Palace on a free transfer. Two years later he moved to Bournemouth, though was let go at the end of the campaign following the Cherries’ promotion to the Premier League. The 36-year-old is currently a free agent.
David Luiz remains one of the most polarising players in Premier League history, though even his harshest critics couldn’t fault his performance against Bayern in the 2012 final.
The defender left for PSG for a whopping £50m in 2014, before returning to Stamford Bridge two years later, becoming an integral part of Antonio Conte’s Premier League-winning side. He jumped ship to Arsenal in 2019, and after two mixed seasons, left for Brazilian club Flamengo, where he remains to this day.
Chelsea’s, England’s and arguably the Premier League’s greatest ever left back spent another two seasons at Stamford Bridge before leaving to join Roma when his contract expired in 2014. He then moved to LA Galaxy before wrapping his 20-year career up at Frank Lampard’s Derby County.
Cole then turned to academy coaching, joining Lampard’s staff before following him to Chelsea, and later Everton, where he was promoted to first team duties.
John Obi Mikel
John Obi Mikel is undisputedly one of Chelsea’s biggest unsung heroes. He left the club in 2017 following 11 trophy-laden seasons at Stamford Bridge, moving to Chinese Super League side Tianjin TEDA before returning to English football with Middlesbrough a year later.
Stints at Trapzonspor, Stoke and Kuwait SC followed and the Nigerian midfielder hung up his boots a few days ago after spending a year without a club.
Chelsea’s all-time record goalscorer, and arguably the greatest player to ever don the shirt, left the club two years after their Champions League triumph. He spent a season at Manchester City, awkwardly scoring his first goal for the club against Chelsea, before retiring in 2016 following a year-and-a-half at New York City FC.
He was appointed Derby manager in 2018 before being handed the reins at Chelsea a year later. He led the club to a top four finish in his first season in spite of a transfer ban and the loss of Eden Hazard, though was dismissed half-way through his second. He joined Everton in January and helped the club narrowly avoid relegation last season.
Ryan Bertrand will probably be the only player in history to ever make his Champions League debut in the final itself. Not a bad legacy for someone who never really made it at Chelsea!
The left back joined Aston Villa on loan in 2013 having failed to unseat Ashley Cole, and moved to Southampton on a permanent basis a year later. He spent seven seasons at St Mary’s before switching to Leicester on a free in 2021. He’s found first-team minutes hard to come by at the King Power and hasn’t made a single appearance so far this season.
Juan Mata was Chelsea’s Player of the Year in 2012, and again in 2013, which made all the more shocking when he was allowed to leave for rivals Manchester United in January 2014.
The Spaniard never really replicated his sparkling Chelsea form at Old Trafford, though remained at the club for eight-and-a-half seasons before joining Galatasaray this summer.
Like Bosingwa, the 2012 Champions League final was Salomon Kalou’s last game for Chelsea. The Ivorian moved to French club Lille, effectively replacing Chelsea-bound Hazard, before moving to Hertha Berlin in 2014.
After six seasons in the Bundesliga, Kalou joined Brazilian club Botafogo, though left after just one season in April last year. After going without a club for nearly a year, his career looked to be over, but a few months ago he turned up in Djibouti (of all places) after signing a short-term deal with Arta/Solar7.
Didier Drogba brought the curtain down on his Chelsea career in the grandest of fashions, with the Ivorian titan announcing his departure mere hours after scoring the winning penalty against Bayern.
He joined Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua, though returned to European football a few months later with Galatasaray. Drogba then re-joined Chelsea for one last season, acting as understudy to Diego Costa. He then saw out his career in North America with stints at Montreal Impact and Phoenix Rising.
He is now the vice president of international organisation Peace and Sport, as well as a goodwill ambassador for the UN.
Florent Malouda, who came off the bench during the final, was yet another man who played his final game for Chelsea that night – though he didn’t actually leave the club until a year later.
He joined Trabzonspor in 2013 when his contract expired, and later had stints in France, India, Egypt and Luxembourg before retiring in 2018. Malouda was then hired as a coach at Swiss club FC Zurich, but his contract was cancelled in April 2019 after less than 2 months.
Fernando Torres, who also came off the bench in the 2012 final, ended his miserable stint at Stamford Bridge in 2014 after moving to AC Milan on loan. He then joined former club Atletico Madrid on loan before signing for them permanently in 2016.
He spent a further two seasons in the Spanish capital, and hung up his boots in 2019 following a one-year spell in Japan. In 2021 he returned to Atletico again, this time as a youth coach.
Roberto Di Matteo
Roberto Di Matteo was labelled the greatest interim manager of all time after winning both the Champions League and the FA Cup as Chelsea’s temporary boss, though his stint as permanent manager didn’t go quite as smoothly.
The Italian was sacked just three months into the new season, and wasn’t seen again before being hired as Schalke boss in 2014. He was sacked again after less than a year in Germany, before a miserable 12-game spell in charge of Aston Villa in 2016 seemingly brought the curtain down on his managerial career.