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Drogba eyes redemption after Moscow misery
Published : 17 May 2012 01:46:59Rss feed
Didier Drogba has vowed to make amends for his Moscow misery by ending Chelsea's long wait to be crowned kings of Europe in Saturday's Champions League final against Bayern Munich.
Drogba has nothing but bad memories of his only previous appearance in the final of Europe's elite club competition after being sent off in extra time as the Blues lost the 2008 showpiece to Manchester United in the rain-soaked Russian capital.
Drogba's dismissal came late in extra-time when he slapped United defender Nemanja Vidic after a mass confrontation between players from both teams.
With Drogba unable to take a penalty in the shoot-out, the Ivory Coast striker had to watch from the sidelines as John Terry and Nicolas Anelka's spot-kick misses gifted the trophy to United.
As Chelsea laboured in vain to return to the Champions League final over the intervening four years, it seemed Drogba would never get the chance to erase that bitter memory.
But against all odds, Drogba and the rest of Chelsea's collection of aging stars have somehow made it back to the final after dramatic victories over Napoli, Benfica and Barcelona in the knockout rounds.
Now the 34-year-old plans to turn his Moscow pain into a moment of sweet redemption when Roberto Di Matteo's side face Bayern in their own Allianz Arena in Munich this weekend.
"I've got a lot of disappointments but I've also had a lot of great moments in finals and I'm going to try to make sure for my teammates this is a good one," Drogba said.
"After Moscow, most of us thought we were going to get into the final the next year. But you can see it's very difficult to reach a final.
"It shows how much we deserve to be there this time because it's been a few years.
"We did a great job to get past Barcelona but we have to do one more. Now it's one more game to win."
Drogba has a well-earned reputation as Chelsea's man for the big occasion and he underlined the point when his eighth goal in eight appearances at Wembley helped his team beat Liverpool 2-1 in the FA Cup final earlier this month.
The Ivorian also has 33 career goals in the Champions League including the crucial winner in the semi-final first leg against Barcelona last month.
Drogba's ability to shine on the game's grandest stages should convince Di Matteo to start him rather than Fernando Torres against Bayern, but the former Marseille star insists it will take a team effort rather than heroics from any one individual to beat the Germans.
"I don't know if I'm made for finals but as far as I'm concerned, we're going to prepare as best we can and do our best," Drogba said.
"I think everybody has got to do his work for the club and for the team."
If Chelsea do win the final it could be a dream farewell for Drogba, who is out of contract at the end of the season and yet to sign a new deal as he looks for a two-year extension rather than the one-year offer on the table from the club.
Drogba will sit down with Chelsea after the final to discuss his future, but he is adamant the unresolved situation won't be a distraction.
"It's not personal. There's nothing to say about me. The only thing we care about is the club," Drogba said.
"I'm not going there to play for me, I'm going to play for Chelsea."
Whether he stays or not, Drogba is well established as a Chelsea legend after driving the club to three Premier League titles and four FA Cup triumphs with his potent combination of power and lethal finishing.
But the Champions League remains Chelsea's holy grail and after so many disappointments in the competition is relishing one last chance to finally lift 'the cup with the big ears'.
"It's one of the biggest games. I think we've played a lot, I've played a lot with Chelsea and this one is kind of special," he said.
"It's only the second time we've reached a final for Chelsea so we're going to do everything to go there and give everything to play against this German team."
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