FLASHBACK: Where Were You on May 21st 2008?Share:
Chelsea legend and captain John Terry turned 36 on Wednesday and in today's episode of FLASHBACK we go back in time to that one moment when one on-the-field event threatened to ruin a glittering career for the one club man.
It was meant to be a football fiesta for Chelsea FC; a festival set for the 80, 000 capacity venue in Moscow, home of Roman Abramovic.
The Luzhniki stood like a towering Coliseum, set for the clash of the last living gladiators, glad to lay their lives for the thrill.
Hundreds of millions, if not a billion, followed the hoorah from around the globe. The pubs and streets around town were littered with people. I heard a Governor's wife even set up a jamboree for the after-party.
I had chosen, against certain instincts, to sit close to home and watch; a close-held pillow and a far-seated friend as company. The tension was frenetic.
After a century of waiting and wailing, a half decade of aiming and missing, Chelsea had finally made it to the UEFA Champions League final; the dreams of millions were set to be realised.
Offerings were doubled and seeds were sown for the occasion.
Chelsea's opponents on the fateful night were no less than the Devils, Manchester United, the same team they had lost the league title to a few weeks back. Hit them back!
The Red Devils had Sir Alex Ferguson and the Blues had Avram Grant, as it turned out, a nearly man. The stage was set for Chelsea to bake United in the oven of Roman and to carve the blue emblem on the coveted trophy.
The wily old Fergie foreknew the plot and had his own crafted. His team came out hell-hot, blazing and buzzing, attacking Chelsea from every angle.
Soon they were in front. Cristiano Ronaldo, reaching for his first Balon d'Or, leaped above the Everest to power an un-Cech-able header into the Chelsea net.
United could have had more, as Ronaldo, Tevez, Rooney and Hargreaves threw everything at Chelsea in the opening 30 minutes or so, just as they would do against FC Barcelona a year later.
Chelsea weathered the storm and went level with legend Lampard. The scepter was back in the Blues' handle. The Blues had twice as many attempts as their rivals (24:12). It never matters.
There were no more goals, as it were. There was a barren extra time to endure.
Then the penalty shootout.
Ronaldo had missed and Chelsea had not. Chelsea had the knife, the yam, the roasting fire and even the sauce. They were set to become the first London club to lift the trophy. Shut up Arsenal! Shut up Tottenham! A date with destiny. No more "Pride of London" debates.
Up stepped John Terry, the greatest captain ever; the doctor you would entrust your heart to.
As the England captain walked towards the penalty spot, re-placed the ball and readied to shoot, my good friend, an Arsenal FC supporter, jumped in front of me, completely blocked my view of the TV and chanted "miss' 'miss' 'miss'...
My stomach steamed with rage, my eyes lost colour and my heart vibed like an alarmed Nokia.
By the time he moved from sight, alarmed by my folded fist, Terry was on the floor and Chelsea out the back door. The Devils had won.
I don't think I ever woke up until May 2012. That time, it was Didier Drogba and the wait was over.
Occasional flashes of that “infamous slip” have come to make me wonder whether Terry, Gerrard and J. Boateng do wear studs to the bathroom.
This is FLASHBACK. What was the moment, where were you, and what did you do?
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