LONDON (AFP) –
Tens of thousands of Chelsea fans gave their team a hero’s welcome on Sunday as they made an open-top bus parade through their west London home after their Champions League win over Bayern Munich.
Blue-clad fans lined the streets and roared their delight as the hero of Saturday’s victory, Didier Drogba, held the trophy aloft, flanked by captain John Terry, who was suspended for the final in Munich.
The bus was emblazoned with a banner proclaiming ‘Champions of Europe’ and Drogba, who scored the decisive spot-kick in the penalty shoot-out, milked the cheers of the crowd.
Fans cheered, hung from lampposts and sounded horns as the bus passed along the route.
Midfielder Frank Lampard, who was the captain in the final, told the crowd: “We’ve been here a long time waiting to win this thing and it was the most amazing night of all of our careers.
“And we’re just so pleased to come back here and celebrate with all our fans. You’ve been amazing. Thank you, thank you, thank you. The best club in the world — easy.”
It was the first time that Chelsea have won Europe’s biggest club prize and fulfilled the ambition of their oligarch owner Roman Abramovich, who has pumped hundreds of millions of pounds into the club.
The Russian owner and interim manager Roberto di Matteo were onboard as the bus made its way through the streets of south-west London.
Veteran Drogba, 34, could be on his way out of Stamford Bridge after a hugely successful eight-year stay, but he was met with chants of “we want you to stay” by grateful fans lining the route.
The Ivory Coast striker responded by grabbing the microphone and leading them in a rendition of ‘We Are The Champions’.
It was a double celebration for the night’s other hero, goalkeeper Petr Cech, who turned 30 on Sunday.
The Czech shot-stopper, who saved two penalties during the encounter, was serenaded with a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’.
Fans also indulged in the quirky ritual of throwing celery at the players; a tradition that began in the late 1980s when the club’s supporters started throwing sticks in the air wile chanting bawdy lyrics.