It was an emotional yet entertaining evening on Saturday as we paid tribute to Gianluca Vialli and raised money for charity, and also got to revel in nostalgia (Dorothy was right though!) by watching some of our greatest legends of the past three decades roam the green grass of Stamford Bridge once more.
Among those making an appearance was none other than Mikel John Obi, returning for the first time since leaving quietly through a side door six and a half years ago — not necessarily by his choice, which was a real shame for the man still among the top 20 in all-time appearances for Chelsea (many things went right in that 2016-17 season, our last Premier League title-winning season; practically ostracizing Mikel was not one of them).
So this weekend was a long overdue opportunity for the Bridge to say goodbye, and vice-versa, and that, combined with being reunited with many of his long-time teammates with whom he had accomplished and won so much, really made it an emotional, joyful occasion for our legendary midfielder.
“I think it did make up for it a little bit. When I was coming out I could feel the fans clapping and cheering. That brought some emotion out of me, coming back and playing and some of the actions that happened in the game. They brought back a lot of good memories.
“It just felt like we were back, the old Chelsea, the way we were on the front foot [...] popping the ball around, seeing JT and Petr behind us, it just brings back memories. Having Michael Essien in the middle with me, it was a joy tonight [...] to see people I haven’t seen in a long time: JT, Makelele, Malouda, Gary Cahill, Ryan Bertrand, all these guys that I played with. It just brings back little memories.
“It’s nice we actually won the game and we can celebrate that. I would do it again!”
Sadly, Mikel’s playing days are now behind him at 36 and having retired last year — though he looked fit enough to lace them up at a moment’s notice! And we could certainly use some of his legendary winning mentality around these parts at the minute.
The man who once publicly poo-pooed even the Europa League of course wanted to beat Bayern. And unlike on May 19, 2012, he didn’t even have to drag us through 120 minutes with our backs to the wall this time around!
“I thought the game was really good, we played really well and got the goals. Bayern also had a few moments when they had a bit of a chance but we are Chelsea and when you play at home, you always want to win. That mentality is always there.’’
-Mikel; source: Chelsea FC
So say we all.