Didier Drogba insisted that Chelsea never stopped believing they could win the UEFA Champions League after he scored the crucial penalty kick in a nerve-shredding shoot-out triumph over Bayern Munich.
Drogba had headed Chelsea level to take Saturday's final into extra time before almost surrendering his team's dream with a clumsy challenge on Franck Ribery which gave Bayern a penalty. But former Chelsea winger Arjen Robben had his spot-kick saved by Petr Cech in goal, and the Londoners went on to win the shoot-out 4-3 after the scores were level at the end of extra time.
"We never give up until the end. It's amazing. It was written, I think, a long time ago," said veteran striker Drogba. "We have been doing this for years and years. There is a great spirit at the club, we never give up until the end. Even if they had scored their penalty in extra time, Juan Mata said we can get another goal. We all believed."
Full-back Ashley Cole added: "We should have lost the game with the amount of chances they had. After we lost in Napoli (in the first leg of the last 16), we thought if we can beat them at home then we have the luck and we can win the tournament.
"Even when Robben missed the penalty, we still thought we had time to get another goal and with Petr Cech in goal, we knew we could do it."
Chelsea club captain John Terry, who was suspended for the final after being red carded in the semi-final against Barcelona, praised interim coach Roberto Di Matteo for turning the club's season around after the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas.
There is a great spirit at the club, we never give up until the end.
"It's what we have wanted and what the owner wanted and Robbie has been superb. We have won the FA Cup and Champions League and he can't do anymore than that," said Terry. "It was do-or-die, win the competition or we would not have been in it next year and that was enough to motivate us."
Cech also played a starring role in the win, saving Robben's penalty in extra time before keeping out Ivica Olic's shoot-out attempt and appearing to get a touch that helped steer Bastian Schweinsteiger's effort onto the post. It was also a relief after Chelsea lost the 2008 final to Manchester United on a shoot-out in Moscow.
"I think Roberto has done enough to get the job, but now it's up to the board to decide," said Cech. "When we lost the penalty shoot-out against Manchester United in Moscow maybe it was not meant to be our moment. But as a player you hope you will have the same opportunity to play the final."
Lampard lauds Di Matteo
Frank Lampard also lauded Di Matteo who has to wait to see if he will become the permanent coach. "He's the one we wanted, he's been brilliant. We cannot ask for anymore for what he has done," said Lampard.
"Once we got back into the game, there was a feeling that it would come for us. It wasn't beautiful and we had to dig in. We were a bit mix-and-match, but we got the result."
The the loss left Bayern, who had taken an 83rd-minute lead through Thomas Mueller, shattered as their dream of lifting a fifth European title ended in agony. "We missed too many chances," admitted coach Jupp Heynckes. "We played well over all and had the majority of possession. But we didn't know how to exploit our many opportunities and you have to use them or you will be punished.
"I congratulate Chelsea on their victory," said Heynckes. "If you wish me to say something about Roberto Di Matteo it is that Chelsea should give him a three-year contract."