Nissan Trophy Tour 2020

Ashley Cole: I’ll never forget that moment

In this series of interviews, five champions talk fans, glory and getting their hands on club football’s biggest prize

INTERVIEW Simon Hart

Ashley Cole, it turns out, is not one for looking back too often at his past matches. As he says of Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League final triumph, “We won it, I scored a penalty, I lifted the trophy. I’ll just leave it like that.” That’s a pretty brusque summary of the evening when Roberto Di Matteo’s side beat Bayern München 4-3 on spot kicks on Bavarian soil to finally land the trophy that had escaped them in an another final shootout four years earlier against Manchester United. Happily, as a Nissan ambassador, the former England, Chelsea and Arsenal left-back made an exception by viewing some clips and sharing his recollections with one lucky supporter of the night a Blues team missing key players such as suspended skipper John Terry underlined their formidable character, spirit and winning mentality… and ended up drinking beer out of European football’s most coveted cup. “I’ve relived the moment mentally but not actually watching it on a TV screen,” Cole confides. “I do miss it… I still get goosebumps, put it that way.”

From reviewing highlights of the final, have you seen anything today that passed you by at the time?

No, not really. People sometimes say, “It was a daze.” It was a daze, but there are certain things I can never forget in that game – I can picture the warm-up, what I was doing in the warm-up, what I was thinking about. This game just sticks with me really, really strongly in my mind.

Ashley Cole in conversation with Champions Journal

What was it specifically about the warm-up?

I just remember going right into the corner and doing kick-ups and talking to myself and talking to Ryan Bertrand because he was making his first start. It was a big moment for him so I didn’t focus too much on my warm-up. I remember preparing not as well as I normally would. I was just trying to stick by him to give him the confidence he needed.

What was it like playing the final in Bayern’s stadium?

I can’t lie – I think it was nerve-racking. Sometimes you feel, “Does a pitch or stadium really matter?” And it’s not as if our fans were outnumbered but, yeah, it was a little bit daunting knowing you were going into their backyard not with a full team available. You’ve got the red lights outside as you drive in [and] Bayern walking into their own dressing room – little things like that. And when you did walk out for the warm-up, you see the wall of red. But it makes it even sweeter now to say we beat them there.

Did the experience of the 2008 Moscow final help?

Looking back, we felt we should have won that game in 2008 on penalties – we were one kick away and the core was still there of Petr Čech, who was getting older; Frank Lampard, who was getting older; Didier Drogba, who was getting older; me, getting older… We didn’t know we’d be playing the season after the final, because we didn’t know if we were staying or not. Would it be our last opportunity to win it? I’d been through so many battles and gone through so much with these boys, that core I’ve mentioned, so I wanted to help create history for Chelsea and, of course, try to finish a personal legacy for me at Chelsea – with my second family, to be honest. We were all revved up.

How did taking a penalty in the shoot-out in 2012 compare with 2008?

There were nerves in both. You have so much pressure and you have the world on your shoulders when you step up to try to take a penalty. You don’t want to let your team-mates down, you don’t want to let the club down, you don’t want to let the fans down and, of course, you don’t want to let yourself down. So yeah, there were nerves, but I was still confident stepping up and trying to take it and just focusing on one corner and sticking with it.

How did the two feelings compare?

It was devastating to lose it. In Moscow, we were in the driving seat. It was down to one penalty. Just thinking about the fine margins of winning and losing at that stage… I was gutted in 2008 because, with the Champions League, you know the history and how prestigious this cup is – you think you might never get another opportunity. We were always chasing that feeling of “We need to get to a final.” We’d been in four semi-finals and got knocked out, lost on penalties in the final, and knowing now this is our last chance, we have to give everything. And to win it on penalties, that feeling… It’s a special one.

Cole fires his penalty past Manuel Neuer in the shootout in the 2012 final; Cole kisses the cup after Chelsea's triumph (below)

And the feeling of getting your hands on the trophy at last…

Relief, I think. Whenever you win any trophy, whether it’s the Premier League, FA Cup, Europa League, you’re relieved to get over that final hurdle to actually celebrate with your team. With the Champions League, being among not just top teams but top individual players, world-class players who’ve won it, to now be part of it, to be part of that group, that’s special. The main thing I’ll never forget would be the speeches – that family feeling in the dressing room after, [with] Didier giving an emotional speech, Roman [Abramovich] in the dressing room and everyone there delighted for Robbie Di Matteo and [assistant manager] Eddie Newton who’d come in and changed the environment and got our mentality back, got our confidence back. Yes, you hold the trophy, you’ve got it, and then it’s the other memories in terms of that emotional connection with your team-mates.

Was there anything specific Drogba said?

It was just about chasing a dream that we’d all strived for and going through so many battles, so many wars, so many ups and downs together. With this group, I was there for eight years. We played with each other so much, so many games together, so much misery at times, fighting and striving for one objective: to win it as a group and a family, to win that Champions League. And then, now we’ve done it, it was just to be proud of ourselves. We’d been chasing this, we’d given everything and now we’re here. And again, I go back to how we didn’t know if we were going to still be at Chelsea. It made it a little bit more heartfelt – who knows where I was going to go the season after? I might never see these guys again, you just never know, so that was that one key connection. I will never forget that moment.

This article is one in a series of five interviews conducted by Champions Journal with former winners Ashley Cole, Cafu, Éric Abidal, Christian Karembeu and Marcel Desailly. They were taking part in the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour driven by Nissan LEAF, whereby five Nissan LEAF-owning fans enjoyed the surprise delivery of the cup with the big ears. The fans then linked up online with one of the above legends to watch clips and talk about a final they played in – and won. Follow this year's Trophy Tour @nissansports on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Best of the best
Ashley Cole’s Champions League Best of the Best

Moment

Taking a penalty in 2012. You’re striving for it and you’re that close, in touching distance of winning it. I’ve had some good moments in the Champions League but to have a great moment it has to be scoring a penalty in the final and winning it. I’d scored in Moscow, but we lost so that goes on the back shelf.

Goal

It has to be Didier Drogba’s header in the 2012 final. When you talk about big moments and big players and match winners, it has to be that – two minutes to go to just give us another chance. I’m not saying it’s the best goal, but personally it’s my favourite.

Team-mates

That core of Big Pete [Čech], Drogba, John Terry, Frank Lampard. And [Branislav] Ivanović, who was again unfortunate to miss the final in 2012 but turned up in some big, big games and gave us some big moments. He was a beast at the back and I don’t think he gets enough credit in that run to the Champions League final.

Opponents

I’ve been fortunate. I’ve played against some unbelievable players – Pablo Aimar for Valencia, the Barcelona team with Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o, and Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2008 final. Luís Figo was another. But when I went to Roma, Bayern beat us 7-1 and probably four of the goals were my fault and it was all down to Arjen Robben. I’d had him in my pocket every time I played against him before that, but with Roma he punished me on several occasions. You know he’s going to come back on his left but you just can’t stop him – he’d shift it that quick and then hit it.

Stadium

Italian fans are a bit crazy at times so I’d probably say the Stadio Olimpico with Arsenal against a great Roma team with Marco Delvecchio, Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi, Cafu, Jonathan Zebina. And against Lazio too in 2000. That stadium was electric with the flares, the non-stop singing. They were two memorable and scary times because the fans made an unbelievable atmosphere.

Ashley Cole, it turns out, is not one for looking back too often at his past matches. As he says of Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League final triumph, “We won it, I scored a penalty, I lifted the trophy. I’ll just leave it like that.” That’s a pretty brusque summary of the evening when Roberto Di Matteo’s side beat Bayern München 4-3 on spot kicks on Bavarian soil to finally land the trophy that had escaped them in an another final shootout four years earlier against Manchester United. Happily, as a Nissan ambassador, the former England, Chelsea and Arsenal left-back made an exception by viewing some clips and sharing his recollections with one lucky supporter of the night a Blues team missing key players such as suspended skipper John Terry underlined their formidable character, spirit and winning mentality… and ended up drinking beer out of European football’s most coveted cup. “I’ve relived the moment mentally but not actually watching it on a TV screen,” Cole confides. “I do miss it… I still get goosebumps, put it that way.”

From reviewing highlights of the final, have you seen anything today that passed you by at the time?

No, not really. People sometimes say, “It was a daze.” It was a daze, but there are certain things I can never forget in that game – I can picture the warm-up, what I was doing in the warm-up, what I was thinking about. This game just sticks with me really, really strongly in my mind.

Ashley Cole in conversation with Champions Journal

What was it specifically about the warm-up?

I just remember going right into the corner and doing kick-ups and talking to myself and talking to Ryan Bertrand because he was making his first start. It was a big moment for him so I didn’t focus too much on my warm-up. I remember preparing not as well as I normally would. I was just trying to stick by him to give him the confidence he needed.

What was it like playing the final in Bayern’s stadium?

I can’t lie – I think it was nerve-racking. Sometimes you feel, “Does a pitch or stadium really matter?” And it’s not as if our fans were outnumbered but, yeah, it was a little bit daunting knowing you were going into their backyard not with a full team available. You’ve got the red lights outside as you drive in [and] Bayern walking into their own dressing room – little things like that. And when you did walk out for the warm-up, you see the wall of red. But it makes it even sweeter now to say we beat them there.

Did the experience of the 2008 Moscow final help?

Looking back, we felt we should have won that game in 2008 on penalties – we were one kick away and the core was still there of Petr Čech, who was getting older; Frank Lampard, who was getting older; Didier Drogba, who was getting older; me, getting older… We didn’t know we’d be playing the season after the final, because we didn’t know if we were staying or not. Would it be our last opportunity to win it? I’d been through so many battles and gone through so much with these boys, that core I’ve mentioned, so I wanted to help create history for Chelsea and, of course, try to finish a personal legacy for me at Chelsea – with my second family, to be honest. We were all revved up.

How did taking a penalty in the shoot-out in 2012 compare with 2008?

There were nerves in both. You have so much pressure and you have the world on your shoulders when you step up to try to take a penalty. You don’t want to let your team-mates down, you don’t want to let the club down, you don’t want to let the fans down and, of course, you don’t want to let yourself down. So yeah, there were nerves, but I was still confident stepping up and trying to take it and just focusing on one corner and sticking with it.

How did the two feelings compare?

It was devastating to lose it. In Moscow, we were in the driving seat. It was down to one penalty. Just thinking about the fine margins of winning and losing at that stage… I was gutted in 2008 because, with the Champions League, you know the history and how prestigious this cup is – you think you might never get another opportunity. We were always chasing that feeling of “We need to get to a final.” We’d been in four semi-finals and got knocked out, lost on penalties in the final, and knowing now this is our last chance, we have to give everything. And to win it on penalties, that feeling… It’s a special one.

Cole fires his penalty past Manuel Neuer in the shootout in the 2012 final; Cole kisses the cup after Chelsea's triumph (below)

And the feeling of getting your hands on the trophy at last…

Relief, I think. Whenever you win any trophy, whether it’s the Premier League, FA Cup, Europa League, you’re relieved to get over that final hurdle to actually celebrate with your team. With the Champions League, being among not just top teams but top individual players, world-class players who’ve won it, to now be part of it, to be part of that group, that’s special. The main thing I’ll never forget would be the speeches – that family feeling in the dressing room after, [with] Didier giving an emotional speech, Roman [Abramovich] in the dressing room and everyone there delighted for Robbie Di Matteo and [assistant manager] Eddie Newton who’d come in and changed the environment and got our mentality back, got our confidence back. Yes, you hold the trophy, you’ve got it, and then it’s the other memories in terms of that emotional connection with your team-mates.

Was there anything specific Drogba said?

It was just about chasing a dream that we’d all strived for and going through so many battles, so many wars, so many ups and downs together. With this group, I was there for eight years. We played with each other so much, so many games together, so much misery at times, fighting and striving for one objective: to win it as a group and a family, to win that Champions League. And then, now we’ve done it, it was just to be proud of ourselves. We’d been chasing this, we’d given everything and now we’re here. And again, I go back to how we didn’t know if we were going to still be at Chelsea. It made it a little bit more heartfelt – who knows where I was going to go the season after? I might never see these guys again, you just never know, so that was that one key connection. I will never forget that moment.

This article is one in a series of five interviews conducted by Champions Journal with former winners Ashley Cole, Cafu, Éric Abidal, Christian Karembeu and Marcel Desailly. They were taking part in the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour driven by Nissan LEAF, whereby five Nissan LEAF-owning fans enjoyed the surprise delivery of the cup with the big ears. The fans then linked up online with one of the above legends to watch clips and talk about a final they played in – and won. Follow this year's Trophy Tour @nissansports on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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Best of the best
Ashley Cole’s Champions League Best of the Best

Moment

Taking a penalty in 2012. You’re striving for it and you’re that close, in touching distance of winning it. I’ve had some good moments in the Champions League but to have a great moment it has to be scoring a penalty in the final and winning it. I’d scored in Moscow, but we lost so that goes on the back shelf.

Goal

It has to be Didier Drogba’s header in the 2012 final. When you talk about big moments and big players and match winners, it has to be that – two minutes to go to just give us another chance. I’m not saying it’s the best goal, but personally it’s my favourite.

Team-mates

That core of Big Pete [Čech], Drogba, John Terry, Frank Lampard. And [Branislav] Ivanović, who was again unfortunate to miss the final in 2012 but turned up in some big, big games and gave us some big moments. He was a beast at the back and I don’t think he gets enough credit in that run to the Champions League final.

Opponents

I’ve been fortunate. I’ve played against some unbelievable players – Pablo Aimar for Valencia, the Barcelona team with Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o, and Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2008 final. Luís Figo was another. But when I went to Roma, Bayern beat us 7-1 and probably four of the goals were my fault and it was all down to Arjen Robben. I’d had him in my pocket every time I played against him before that, but with Roma he punished me on several occasions. You know he’s going to come back on his left but you just can’t stop him – he’d shift it that quick and then hit it.

Stadium

Italian fans are a bit crazy at times so I’d probably say the Stadio Olimpico with Arsenal against a great Roma team with Marco Delvecchio, Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi, Cafu, Jonathan Zebina. And against Lazio too in 2000. That stadium was electric with the flares, the non-stop singing. They were two memorable and scary times because the fans made an unbelievable atmosphere.

Ashley Cole, it turns out, is not one for looking back too often at his past matches. As he says of Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League final triumph, “We won it, I scored a penalty, I lifted the trophy. I’ll just leave it like that.” That’s a pretty brusque summary of the evening when Roberto Di Matteo’s side beat Bayern München 4-3 on spot kicks on Bavarian soil to finally land the trophy that had escaped them in an another final shootout four years earlier against Manchester United. Happily, as a Nissan ambassador, the former England, Chelsea and Arsenal left-back made an exception by viewing some clips and sharing his recollections with one lucky supporter of the night a Blues team missing key players such as suspended skipper John Terry underlined their formidable character, spirit and winning mentality… and ended up drinking beer out of European football’s most coveted cup. “I’ve relived the moment mentally but not actually watching it on a TV screen,” Cole confides. “I do miss it… I still get goosebumps, put it that way.”

From reviewing highlights of the final, have you seen anything today that passed you by at the time?

No, not really. People sometimes say, “It was a daze.” It was a daze, but there are certain things I can never forget in that game – I can picture the warm-up, what I was doing in the warm-up, what I was thinking about. This game just sticks with me really, really strongly in my mind.

Ashley Cole in conversation with Champions Journal

What was it specifically about the warm-up?

I just remember going right into the corner and doing kick-ups and talking to myself and talking to Ryan Bertrand because he was making his first start. It was a big moment for him so I didn’t focus too much on my warm-up. I remember preparing not as well as I normally would. I was just trying to stick by him to give him the confidence he needed.

What was it like playing the final in Bayern’s stadium?

I can’t lie – I think it was nerve-racking. Sometimes you feel, “Does a pitch or stadium really matter?” And it’s not as if our fans were outnumbered but, yeah, it was a little bit daunting knowing you were going into their backyard not with a full team available. You’ve got the red lights outside as you drive in [and] Bayern walking into their own dressing room – little things like that. And when you did walk out for the warm-up, you see the wall of red. But it makes it even sweeter now to say we beat them there.

Did the experience of the 2008 Moscow final help?

Looking back, we felt we should have won that game in 2008 on penalties – we were one kick away and the core was still there of Petr Čech, who was getting older; Frank Lampard, who was getting older; Didier Drogba, who was getting older; me, getting older… We didn’t know we’d be playing the season after the final, because we didn’t know if we were staying or not. Would it be our last opportunity to win it? I’d been through so many battles and gone through so much with these boys, that core I’ve mentioned, so I wanted to help create history for Chelsea and, of course, try to finish a personal legacy for me at Chelsea – with my second family, to be honest. We were all revved up.

How did taking a penalty in the shoot-out in 2012 compare with 2008?

There were nerves in both. You have so much pressure and you have the world on your shoulders when you step up to try to take a penalty. You don’t want to let your team-mates down, you don’t want to let the club down, you don’t want to let the fans down and, of course, you don’t want to let yourself down. So yeah, there were nerves, but I was still confident stepping up and trying to take it and just focusing on one corner and sticking with it.

How did the two feelings compare?

It was devastating to lose it. In Moscow, we were in the driving seat. It was down to one penalty. Just thinking about the fine margins of winning and losing at that stage… I was gutted in 2008 because, with the Champions League, you know the history and how prestigious this cup is – you think you might never get another opportunity. We were always chasing that feeling of “We need to get to a final.” We’d been in four semi-finals and got knocked out, lost on penalties in the final, and knowing now this is our last chance, we have to give everything. And to win it on penalties, that feeling… It’s a special one.

Cole fires his penalty past Manuel Neuer in the shootout in the 2012 final; Cole kisses the cup after Chelsea's triumph (below)

And the feeling of getting your hands on the trophy at last…

Relief, I think. Whenever you win any trophy, whether it’s the Premier League, FA Cup, Europa League, you’re relieved to get over that final hurdle to actually celebrate with your team. With the Champions League, being among not just top teams but top individual players, world-class players who’ve won it, to now be part of it, to be part of that group, that’s special. The main thing I’ll never forget would be the speeches – that family feeling in the dressing room after, [with] Didier giving an emotional speech, Roman [Abramovich] in the dressing room and everyone there delighted for Robbie Di Matteo and [assistant manager] Eddie Newton who’d come in and changed the environment and got our mentality back, got our confidence back. Yes, you hold the trophy, you’ve got it, and then it’s the other memories in terms of that emotional connection with your team-mates.

Was there anything specific Drogba said?

It was just about chasing a dream that we’d all strived for and going through so many battles, so many wars, so many ups and downs together. With this group, I was there for eight years. We played with each other so much, so many games together, so much misery at times, fighting and striving for one objective: to win it as a group and a family, to win that Champions League. And then, now we’ve done it, it was just to be proud of ourselves. We’d been chasing this, we’d given everything and now we’re here. And again, I go back to how we didn’t know if we were going to still be at Chelsea. It made it a little bit more heartfelt – who knows where I was going to go the season after? I might never see these guys again, you just never know, so that was that one key connection. I will never forget that moment.

This article is one in a series of five interviews conducted by Champions Journal with former winners Ashley Cole, Cafu, Éric Abidal, Christian Karembeu and Marcel Desailly. They were taking part in the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour driven by Nissan LEAF, whereby five Nissan LEAF-owning fans enjoyed the surprise delivery of the cup with the big ears. The fans then linked up online with one of the above legends to watch clips and talk about a final they played in – and won. Follow this year's Trophy Tour @nissansports on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Best of the best
Ashley Cole: I’ll never forget that moment

Moment

Taking a penalty in 2012. You’re striving for it and you’re that close, in touching distance of winning it. I’ve had some good moments in the Champions League but to have a great moment it has to be scoring a penalty in the final and winning it. I’d scored in Moscow, but we lost so that goes on the back shelf.

Goal

It has to be Didier Drogba’s header in the 2012 final. When you talk about big moments and big players and match winners, it has to be that – two minutes to go to just give us another chance. I’m not saying it’s the best goal, but personally it’s my favourite.

Team-mates

That core of Big Pete [Čech], Drogba, John Terry, Frank Lampard. And [Branislav] Ivanović, who was again unfortunate to miss the final in 2012 but turned up in some big, big games and gave us some big moments. He was a beast at the back and I don’t think he gets enough credit in that run to the Champions League final.

Opponents

I’ve been fortunate. I’ve played against some unbelievable players – Pablo Aimar for Valencia, the Barcelona team with Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o, and Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2008 final. Luís Figo was another. But when I went to Roma, Bayern beat us 7-1 and probably four of the goals were my fault and it was all down to Arjen Robben. I’d had him in my pocket every time I played against him before that, but with Roma he punished me on several occasions. You know he’s going to come back on his left but you just can’t stop him – he’d shift it that quick and then hit it.

Stadium

Italian fans are a bit crazy at times so I’d probably say the Stadio Olimpico with Arsenal against a great Roma team with Marco Delvecchio, Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi, Cafu, Jonathan Zebina. And against Lazio too in 2000. That stadium was electric with the flares, the non-stop singing. They were two memorable and scary times because the fans made an unbelievable atmosphere.

Nissan Trophy Tour 2020

Ashley Cole: I’ll never forget that moment

In this series of interviews, five champions talk fans, glory and getting their hands on club football’s biggest prize

INTERVIEW Simon Hart

Ashley Cole, it turns out, is not one for looking back too often at his past matches. As he says of Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League final triumph, “We won it, I scored a penalty, I lifted the trophy. I’ll just leave it like that.” That’s a pretty brusque summary of the evening when Roberto Di Matteo’s side beat Bayern München 4-3 on spot kicks on Bavarian soil to finally land the trophy that had escaped them in an another final shootout four years earlier against Manchester United. Happily, as a Nissan ambassador, the former England, Chelsea and Arsenal left-back made an exception by viewing some clips and sharing his recollections with one lucky supporter of the night a Blues team missing key players such as suspended skipper John Terry underlined their formidable character, spirit and winning mentality… and ended up drinking beer out of European football’s most coveted cup. “I’ve relived the moment mentally but not actually watching it on a TV screen,” Cole confides. “I do miss it… I still get goosebumps, put it that way.”

From reviewing highlights of the final, have you seen anything today that passed you by at the time?

No, not really. People sometimes say, “It was a daze.” It was a daze, but there are certain things I can never forget in that game – I can picture the warm-up, what I was doing in the warm-up, what I was thinking about. This game just sticks with me really, really strongly in my mind.

Ashley Cole in conversation with Champions Journal

What was it specifically about the warm-up?

I just remember going right into the corner and doing kick-ups and talking to myself and talking to Ryan Bertrand because he was making his first start. It was a big moment for him so I didn’t focus too much on my warm-up. I remember preparing not as well as I normally would. I was just trying to stick by him to give him the confidence he needed.

What was it like playing the final in Bayern’s stadium?

I can’t lie – I think it was nerve-racking. Sometimes you feel, “Does a pitch or stadium really matter?” And it’s not as if our fans were outnumbered but, yeah, it was a little bit daunting knowing you were going into their backyard not with a full team available. You’ve got the red lights outside as you drive in [and] Bayern walking into their own dressing room – little things like that. And when you did walk out for the warm-up, you see the wall of red. But it makes it even sweeter now to say we beat them there.

Did the experience of the 2008 Moscow final help?

Looking back, we felt we should have won that game in 2008 on penalties – we were one kick away and the core was still there of Petr Čech, who was getting older; Frank Lampard, who was getting older; Didier Drogba, who was getting older; me, getting older… We didn’t know we’d be playing the season after the final, because we didn’t know if we were staying or not. Would it be our last opportunity to win it? I’d been through so many battles and gone through so much with these boys, that core I’ve mentioned, so I wanted to help create history for Chelsea and, of course, try to finish a personal legacy for me at Chelsea – with my second family, to be honest. We were all revved up.

How did taking a penalty in the shoot-out in 2012 compare with 2008?

There were nerves in both. You have so much pressure and you have the world on your shoulders when you step up to try to take a penalty. You don’t want to let your team-mates down, you don’t want to let the club down, you don’t want to let the fans down and, of course, you don’t want to let yourself down. So yeah, there were nerves, but I was still confident stepping up and trying to take it and just focusing on one corner and sticking with it.

How did the two feelings compare?

It was devastating to lose it. In Moscow, we were in the driving seat. It was down to one penalty. Just thinking about the fine margins of winning and losing at that stage… I was gutted in 2008 because, with the Champions League, you know the history and how prestigious this cup is – you think you might never get another opportunity. We were always chasing that feeling of “We need to get to a final.” We’d been in four semi-finals and got knocked out, lost on penalties in the final, and knowing now this is our last chance, we have to give everything. And to win it on penalties, that feeling… It’s a special one.

Cole fires his penalty past Manuel Neuer in the shootout in the 2012 final; Cole kisses the cup after Chelsea's triumph (below)

And the feeling of getting your hands on the trophy at last…

Relief, I think. Whenever you win any trophy, whether it’s the Premier League, FA Cup, Europa League, you’re relieved to get over that final hurdle to actually celebrate with your team. With the Champions League, being among not just top teams but top individual players, world-class players who’ve won it, to now be part of it, to be part of that group, that’s special. The main thing I’ll never forget would be the speeches – that family feeling in the dressing room after, [with] Didier giving an emotional speech, Roman [Abramovich] in the dressing room and everyone there delighted for Robbie Di Matteo and [assistant manager] Eddie Newton who’d come in and changed the environment and got our mentality back, got our confidence back. Yes, you hold the trophy, you’ve got it, and then it’s the other memories in terms of that emotional connection with your team-mates.

Was there anything specific Drogba said?

It was just about chasing a dream that we’d all strived for and going through so many battles, so many wars, so many ups and downs together. With this group, I was there for eight years. We played with each other so much, so many games together, so much misery at times, fighting and striving for one objective: to win it as a group and a family, to win that Champions League. And then, now we’ve done it, it was just to be proud of ourselves. We’d been chasing this, we’d given everything and now we’re here. And again, I go back to how we didn’t know if we were going to still be at Chelsea. It made it a little bit more heartfelt – who knows where I was going to go the season after? I might never see these guys again, you just never know, so that was that one key connection. I will never forget that moment.

This article is one in a series of five interviews conducted by Champions Journal with former winners Ashley Cole, Cafu, Éric Abidal, Christian Karembeu and Marcel Desailly. They were taking part in the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour driven by Nissan LEAF, whereby five Nissan LEAF-owning fans enjoyed the surprise delivery of the cup with the big ears. The fans then linked up online with one of the above legends to watch clips and talk about a final they played in – and won. Follow this year's Trophy Tour @nissansports on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Best of the best
Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Ashley Cole, it turns out, is not one for looking back too often at his past matches. As he says of Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League final triumph, “We won it, I scored a penalty, I lifted the trophy. I’ll just leave it like that.” That’s a pretty brusque summary of the evening when Roberto Di Matteo’s side beat Bayern München 4-3 on spot kicks on Bavarian soil to finally land the trophy that had escaped them in an another final shootout four years earlier against Manchester United. Happily, as a Nissan ambassador, the former England, Chelsea and Arsenal left-back made an exception by viewing some clips and sharing his recollections with one lucky supporter of the night a Blues team missing key players such as suspended skipper John Terry underlined their formidable character, spirit and winning mentality… and ended up drinking beer out of European football’s most coveted cup. “I’ve relived the moment mentally but not actually watching it on a TV screen,” Cole confides. “I do miss it… I still get goosebumps, put it that way.”

From reviewing highlights of the final, have you seen anything today that passed you by at the time?

No, not really. People sometimes say, “It was a daze.” It was a daze, but there are certain things I can never forget in that game – I can picture the warm-up, what I was doing in the warm-up, what I was thinking about. This game just sticks with me really, really strongly in my mind.

Ashley Cole in conversation with Champions Journal

What was it specifically about the warm-up?

I just remember going right into the corner and doing kick-ups and talking to myself and talking to Ryan Bertrand because he was making his first start. It was a big moment for him so I didn’t focus too much on my warm-up. I remember preparing not as well as I normally would. I was just trying to stick by him to give him the confidence he needed.

What was it like playing the final in Bayern’s stadium?

I can’t lie – I think it was nerve-racking. Sometimes you feel, “Does a pitch or stadium really matter?” And it’s not as if our fans were outnumbered but, yeah, it was a little bit daunting knowing you were going into their backyard not with a full team available. You’ve got the red lights outside as you drive in [and] Bayern walking into their own dressing room – little things like that. And when you did walk out for the warm-up, you see the wall of red. But it makes it even sweeter now to say we beat them there.

Did the experience of the 2008 Moscow final help?

Looking back, we felt we should have won that game in 2008 on penalties – we were one kick away and the core was still there of Petr Čech, who was getting older; Frank Lampard, who was getting older; Didier Drogba, who was getting older; me, getting older… We didn’t know we’d be playing the season after the final, because we didn’t know if we were staying or not. Would it be our last opportunity to win it? I’d been through so many battles and gone through so much with these boys, that core I’ve mentioned, so I wanted to help create history for Chelsea and, of course, try to finish a personal legacy for me at Chelsea – with my second family, to be honest. We were all revved up.

How did taking a penalty in the shoot-out in 2012 compare with 2008?

There were nerves in both. You have so much pressure and you have the world on your shoulders when you step up to try to take a penalty. You don’t want to let your team-mates down, you don’t want to let the club down, you don’t want to let the fans down and, of course, you don’t want to let yourself down. So yeah, there were nerves, but I was still confident stepping up and trying to take it and just focusing on one corner and sticking with it.

How did the two feelings compare?

It was devastating to lose it. In Moscow, we were in the driving seat. It was down to one penalty. Just thinking about the fine margins of winning and losing at that stage… I was gutted in 2008 because, with the Champions League, you know the history and how prestigious this cup is – you think you might never get another opportunity. We were always chasing that feeling of “We need to get to a final.” We’d been in four semi-finals and got knocked out, lost on penalties in the final, and knowing now this is our last chance, we have to give everything. And to win it on penalties, that feeling… It’s a special one.

Cole fires his penalty past Manuel Neuer in the shootout in the 2012 final; Cole kisses the cup after Chelsea's triumph (below)

And the feeling of getting your hands on the trophy at last…

Relief, I think. Whenever you win any trophy, whether it’s the Premier League, FA Cup, Europa League, you’re relieved to get over that final hurdle to actually celebrate with your team. With the Champions League, being among not just top teams but top individual players, world-class players who’ve won it, to now be part of it, to be part of that group, that’s special. The main thing I’ll never forget would be the speeches – that family feeling in the dressing room after, [with] Didier giving an emotional speech, Roman [Abramovich] in the dressing room and everyone there delighted for Robbie Di Matteo and [assistant manager] Eddie Newton who’d come in and changed the environment and got our mentality back, got our confidence back. Yes, you hold the trophy, you’ve got it, and then it’s the other memories in terms of that emotional connection with your team-mates.

Was there anything specific Drogba said?

It was just about chasing a dream that we’d all strived for and going through so many battles, so many wars, so many ups and downs together. With this group, I was there for eight years. We played with each other so much, so many games together, so much misery at times, fighting and striving for one objective: to win it as a group and a family, to win that Champions League. And then, now we’ve done it, it was just to be proud of ourselves. We’d been chasing this, we’d given everything and now we’re here. And again, I go back to how we didn’t know if we were going to still be at Chelsea. It made it a little bit more heartfelt – who knows where I was going to go the season after? I might never see these guys again, you just never know, so that was that one key connection. I will never forget that moment.

This article is one in a series of five interviews conducted by Champions Journal with former winners Ashley Cole, Cafu, Éric Abidal, Christian Karembeu and Marcel Desailly. They were taking part in the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour driven by Nissan LEAF, whereby five Nissan LEAF-owning fans enjoyed the surprise delivery of the cup with the big ears. The fans then linked up online with one of the above legends to watch clips and talk about a final they played in – and won. Follow this year's Trophy Tour @nissansports on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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Best of the best
Ashley Cole’s Champions League Best of the Best

Moment

Taking a penalty in 2012. You’re striving for it and you’re that close, in touching distance of winning it. I’ve had some good moments in the Champions League but to have a great moment it has to be scoring a penalty in the final and winning it. I’d scored in Moscow, but we lost so that goes on the back shelf.

Goal

It has to be Didier Drogba’s header in the 2012 final. When you talk about big moments and big players and match winners, it has to be that – two minutes to go to just give us another chance. I’m not saying it’s the best goal, but personally it’s my favourite.

Team-mates

That core of Big Pete [Čech], Drogba, John Terry, Frank Lampard. And [Branislav] Ivanović, who was again unfortunate to miss the final in 2012 but turned up in some big, big games and gave us some big moments. He was a beast at the back and I don’t think he gets enough credit in that run to the Champions League final.

Opponents

I’ve been fortunate. I’ve played against some unbelievable players – Pablo Aimar for Valencia, the Barcelona team with Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto’o, and Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2008 final. Luís Figo was another. But when I went to Roma, Bayern beat us 7-1 and probably four of the goals were my fault and it was all down to Arjen Robben. I’d had him in my pocket every time I played against him before that, but with Roma he punished me on several occasions. You know he’s going to come back on his left but you just can’t stop him – he’d shift it that quick and then hit it.

Stadium

Italian fans are a bit crazy at times so I’d probably say the Stadio Olimpico with Arsenal against a great Roma team with Marco Delvecchio, Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi, Cafu, Jonathan Zebina. And against Lazio too in 2000. That stadium was electric with the flares, the non-stop singing. They were two memorable and scary times because the fans made an unbelievable atmosphere.

Ashley Cole, it turns out, is not one for looking back too often at his past matches. As he says of Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League final triumph, “We won it, I scored a penalty, I lifted the trophy. I’ll just leave it like that.” That’s a pretty brusque summary of the evening when Roberto Di Matteo’s side beat Bayern München 4-3 on spot kicks on Bavarian soil to finally land the trophy that had escaped them in an another final shootout four years earlier against Manchester United. Happily, as a Nissan ambassador, the former England, Chelsea and Arsenal left-back made an exception by viewing some clips and sharing his recollections with one lucky supporter of the night a Blues team missing key players such as suspended skipper John Terry underlined their formidable character, spirit and winning mentality… and ended up drinking beer out of European football’s most coveted cup. “I’ve relived the moment mentally but not actually watching it on a TV screen,” Cole confides. “I do miss it… I still get goosebumps, put it that way.”

From reviewing highlights of the final, have you seen anything today that passed you by at the time?

No, not really. People sometimes say, “It was a daze.” It was a daze, but there are certain things I can never forget in that game – I can picture the warm-up, what I was doing in the warm-up, what I was thinking about. This game just sticks with me really, really strongly in my mind.

Ashley Cole in conversation with Champions Journal

What was it specifically about the warm-up?

I just remember going right into the corner and doing kick-ups and talking to myself and talking to Ryan Bertrand because he was making his first start. It was a big moment for him so I didn’t focus too much on my warm-up. I remember preparing not as well as I normally would. I was just trying to stick by him to give him the confidence he needed.

What was it like playing the final in Bayern’s stadium?

I can’t lie – I think it was nerve-racking. Sometimes you feel, “Does a pitch or stadium really matter?” And it’s not as if our fans were outnumbered but, yeah, it was a little bit daunting knowing you were going into their backyard not with a full team available. You’ve got the red lights outside as you drive in [and] Bayern walking into their own dressing room – little things like that. And when you did walk out for the warm-up, you see the wall of red. But it makes it even sweeter now to say we beat them there.

Did the experience of the 2008 Moscow final help?

Looking back, we felt we should have won that game in 2008 on penalties – we were one kick away and the core was still there of Petr Čech, who was getting older; Frank Lampard, who was getting older; Didier Drogba, who was getting older; me, getting older… We didn’t know we’d be playing the season after the final, because we didn’t know if we were staying or not. Would it be our last opportunity to win it? I’d been through so many battles and gone through so much with these boys, that core I’ve mentioned, so I wanted to help create history for Chelsea and, of course, try to finish a personal legacy for me at Chelsea – with my second family, to be honest. We were all revved up.

How did taking a penalty in the shoot-out in 2012 compare with 2008?

There were nerves in both. You have so much pressure and you have the world on your shoulders when you step up to try to take a penalty. You don’t want to let your team-mates down, you don’t want to let the club down, you don’t want to let the fans down and, of course, you don’t want to let yourself down. So yeah, there were nerves, but I was still confident stepping up and trying to take it and just focusing on one corner and sticking with it.

How did the two feelings compare?

It was devastating to lose it. In Moscow, we were in the driving seat. It was down to one penalty. Just thinking about the fine margins of winning and losing at that stage… I was gutted in 2008 because, with the Champions League, you know the history and how prestigious this cup is – you think you might never get another opportunity. We were always chasing that feeling of “We need to get to a final.” We’d been in four semi-finals and got knocked out, lost on penalties in the final, and knowing now this is our last chance, we have to give everything. And to win it on penalties, that feeling… It’s a special one.

Cole fires his penalty past Manuel Neuer in the shootout in the 2012 final; Cole kisses the cup after Chelsea's triumph (below)

And the feeling of getting your hands on the trophy at last…

Relief, I think. Whenever you win any trophy, whether it’s the Premier League, FA Cup, Europa League, you’re relieved to get over that final hurdle to actually celebrate with your team. With the Champions League, being among not just top teams but top individual players, world-class players who’ve won it, to now be part of it, to be part of that group, that’s special. The main thing I’ll never forget would be the speeches – that family feeling in the dressing room after, [with] Didier giving an emotional speech, Roman [Abramovich] in the dressing room and everyone there delighted for Robbie Di Matteo and [assistant manager] Eddie Newton who’d come in and changed the environment and got our mentality back, got our confidence back. Yes, you hold the trophy, you’ve got it, and then it’s the other memories in terms of that emotional connection with your team-mates.

Was there anything specific Drogba said?

It was just about chasing a dream that we’d all strived for and going through so many battles, so many wars, so many ups and downs together. With this group, I was there for eight years. We played with each other so much, so many games together, so much misery at times, fighting and striving for one objective: to win it as a group and a family, to win that Champions League. And then, now we’ve done it, it was just to be proud of ourselves. We’d been chasing this, we’d given everything and now we’re here. And again, I go back to how we didn’t know if we were going to still be at Chelsea. It made it a little bit more heartfelt – who knows where I was going to go the season after? I might never see these guys again, you just never know, so that was that one key connection. I will never forget that moment.

This article is one in a series of five interviews conducted by Champions Journal with former winners Ashley Cole, Cafu, Éric Abidal, Christian Karembeu and Marcel Desailly. They were taking part in the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour driven by Nissan LEAF, whereby five Nissan LEAF-owning fans enjoyed the surprise delivery of the cup with the big ears. The fans then linked up online with one of the above legends to watch clips and talk about a final they played in – and won. Follow this year's Trophy Tour @nissansports on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Best of the best
Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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