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Chelsea legend Frank Lampard played over 100 matches in the Champions League as a player, and as he tells Graham Hunter, winning the trophy in Munich in 2012 was an emotionally draining finale to a rollercoaster ride

The Champions League is drenched in emotion for Frank Lampard. He reached his first final, Moscow in 2008, shrugging off heartbreak to score an extra-time penalty against Liverpool in the semi-final just six days after the death of his mother, Pat. When he equalised against Manchester United in that Luzhniki Stadium final his instinctive reaction was to point, both hands aloft, to the heavens – dedicating that moment to her.

Chelsea’s new boss eventually got his hands on the trophy after one of the most dramatic finals in European Cup history, against Bayern München four years later. About an hour after extra time and penalties had thrilled us and shredded our nerves in equal measure, I chatted with him as he clutched the cherished cup with big ears in a dressing room at the stadium.

“Did you feel like your mum was watching over you tonight during all that?” I asked him. One little glance down at the trophy, one little moment to let his mind drift back to the night of tumult, and he answered firmly: “Yes, I definitely did.”

The Chelsea captain with the trophy in 2012 (above right); Frank Lampard celebrates with his team-mates during the Champions League match between Chelsea and Lazio in 2003

His love affair with this competition was instant. It had gripped him many years earlier, as he told me when we met again shortly after his return to Chelsea as manager. “I remember the first Champions League games I played, in late 2003, for Claudio Ranieri, especially our home match against Lazio, which we won 2-1. And the actual shivers on hearing the music, in the line-up before the game, when I thought: ‘Wow! This is the thing – not for me personally, but the club. This is the real deal!’ An evening match at Stamford Bridge, and all that signified.”

It’s worth noting that he scored against Roberto Mancini’s talented side that night. “In due course I suffered lots of ups and downs. We tried and fought to get to finals, we lost one [Moscow], and then to culminate that, to win in Munich, and to win against Bayern in the circumstances we did – as underdogs in their home stadium – after the crazy ride we’d had to get there. It was the stuff of movies.”

I felt and heard the thump of the ball on Didier Drogba’s head, and I turned and it was in the back of the Bayern net. That’s why Didier Drogba is a hero of this club

A movie scriptwriter possibly wouldn’t have had the nerve to leave it until the final 129 seconds of the match for Chelsea to claw their way back into a contest that seemed lost. Bayern lead 1-0, the crowd is at fever pitch, referee Pedro Proença is beginning to think about checking his watch when Juan Mata bends in the corner kick. Cue Lampard leaping, but a ferocious team-mate, in his farewell match for the Blues, leaping still higher.

“I felt and heard the thump of the ball on Didier Drogba’s head, and then I turned and it was in the back of the Bayern net. That’s why Didier Drogba is a hero of this club. When anyone asks me about my career, I can’t help but have that as one moment that jumps out at me. That’s what the Champions League is! If I’d have finished my career without that on my CV, then I would have certainly felt incomplete, and I think this club would be incomplete. To win the Champions League for Chelsea, the first London side to do so, is something we’re all proud of, and it gives me the determination to take on the Champions League again, as a manager.”

Read More: Frank Lampard's greatest Champions League moments

The Champions League is drenched in emotion for Frank Lampard. He reached his first final, Moscow in 2008, shrugging off heartbreak to score an extra-time penalty against Liverpool in the semi-final just six days after the death of his mother, Pat. When he equalised against Manchester United in that Luzhniki Stadium final his instinctive reaction was to point, both hands aloft, to the heavens – dedicating that moment to her.

Chelsea’s new boss eventually got his hands on the trophy after one of the most dramatic finals in European Cup history, against Bayern München four years later. About an hour after extra time and penalties had thrilled us and shredded our nerves in equal measure, I chatted with him as he clutched the cherished cup with big ears in a dressing room at the stadium.

“Did you feel like your mum was watching over you tonight during all that?” I asked him. One little glance down at the trophy, one little moment to let his mind drift back to the night of tumult, and he answered firmly: “Yes, I definitely did.”

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The Chelsea captain with the trophy in 2012 (above right); Frank Lampard celebrates with his team-mates during the Champions League match between Chelsea and Lazio in 2003

His love affair with this competition was instant. It had gripped him many years earlier, as he told me when we met again shortly after his return to Chelsea as manager. “I remember the first Champions League games I played, in late 2003, for Claudio Ranieri, especially our home match against Lazio, which we won 2-1. And the actual shivers on hearing the music, in the line-up before the game, when I thought: ‘Wow! This is the thing – not for me personally, but the club. This is the real deal!’ An evening match at Stamford Bridge, and all that signified.”

It’s worth noting that he scored against Roberto Mancini’s talented side that night. “In due course I suffered lots of ups and downs. We tried and fought to get to finals, we lost one [Moscow], and then to culminate that, to win in Munich, and to win against Bayern in the circumstances we did – as underdogs in their home stadium – after the crazy ride we’d had to get there. It was the stuff of movies.”

I felt and heard the thump of the ball on Didier Drogba’s head, and I turned and it was in the back of the Bayern net. That’s why Didier Drogba is a hero of this club

A movie scriptwriter possibly wouldn’t have had the nerve to leave it until the final 129 seconds of the match for Chelsea to claw their way back into a contest that seemed lost. Bayern lead 1-0, the crowd is at fever pitch, referee Pedro Proença is beginning to think about checking his watch when Juan Mata bends in the corner kick. Cue Lampard leaping, but a ferocious team-mate, in his farewell match for the Blues, leaping still higher.

“I felt and heard the thump of the ball on Didier Drogba’s head, and then I turned and it was in the back of the Bayern net. That’s why Didier Drogba is a hero of this club. When anyone asks me about my career, I can’t help but have that as one moment that jumps out at me. That’s what the Champions League is! If I’d have finished my career without that on my CV, then I would have certainly felt incomplete, and I think this club would be incomplete. To win the Champions League for Chelsea, the first London side to do so, is something we’re all proud of, and it gives me the determination to take on the Champions League again, as a manager.”

Read More: Frank Lampard's greatest Champions League moments

The Champions League is drenched in emotion for Frank Lampard. He reached his first final, Moscow in 2008, shrugging off heartbreak to score an extra-time penalty against Liverpool in the semi-final just six days after the death of his mother, Pat. When he equalised against Manchester United in that Luzhniki Stadium final his instinctive reaction was to point, both hands aloft, to the heavens – dedicating that moment to her.

Chelsea’s new boss eventually got his hands on the trophy after one of the most dramatic finals in European Cup history, against Bayern München four years later. About an hour after extra time and penalties had thrilled us and shredded our nerves in equal measure, I chatted with him as he clutched the cherished cup with big ears in a dressing room at the stadium.

“Did you feel like your mum was watching over you tonight during all that?” I asked him. One little glance down at the trophy, one little moment to let his mind drift back to the night of tumult, and he answered firmly: “Yes, I definitely did.”

The Chelsea captain with the trophy in 2012 (above right); Frank Lampard celebrates with his team-mates during the Champions League match between Chelsea and Lazio in 2003

His love affair with this competition was instant. It had gripped him many years earlier, as he told me when we met again shortly after his return to Chelsea as manager. “I remember the first Champions League games I played, in late 2003, for Claudio Ranieri, especially our home match against Lazio, which we won 2-1. And the actual shivers on hearing the music, in the line-up before the game, when I thought: ‘Wow! This is the thing – not for me personally, but the club. This is the real deal!’ An evening match at Stamford Bridge, and all that signified.”

It’s worth noting that he scored against Roberto Mancini’s talented side that night. “In due course I suffered lots of ups and downs. We tried and fought to get to finals, we lost one [Moscow], and then to culminate that, to win in Munich, and to win against Bayern in the circumstances we did – as underdogs in their home stadium – after the crazy ride we’d had to get there. It was the stuff of movies.”

I felt and heard the thump of the ball on Didier Drogba’s head, and I turned and it was in the back of the Bayern net. That’s why Didier Drogba is a hero of this club

A movie scriptwriter possibly wouldn’t have had the nerve to leave it until the final 129 seconds of the match for Chelsea to claw their way back into a contest that seemed lost. Bayern lead 1-0, the crowd is at fever pitch, referee Pedro Proença is beginning to think about checking his watch when Juan Mata bends in the corner kick. Cue Lampard leaping, but a ferocious team-mate, in his farewell match for the Blues, leaping still higher.

“I felt and heard the thump of the ball on Didier Drogba’s head, and then I turned and it was in the back of the Bayern net. That’s why Didier Drogba is a hero of this club. When anyone asks me about my career, I can’t help but have that as one moment that jumps out at me. That’s what the Champions League is! If I’d have finished my career without that on my CV, then I would have certainly felt incomplete, and I think this club would be incomplete. To win the Champions League for Chelsea, the first London side to do so, is something we’re all proud of, and it gives me the determination to take on the Champions League again, as a manager.”

Read More: Frank Lampard's greatest Champions League moments

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