Chelsea veteran Frank Lampard and departing striker Didier Drogba have both paid a glowing tribute to the contributions of often-criticized Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, emphasizing that the Russian billionaire’s drive to succeed is often overlooked due to the negative connotation associated with money and power.
Lampard captained Chelsea through a tough Champions League final triumph over Bayern Munich five days ago while Drogba played a starring role in the win by scoring the team’s only goal and converting the decisive spot-kick in the penalty shoot-out.
In doing so, the Blues realized a decade-long dream for European glory and the city of London also celebrated its first ever Champions League title. Abramovich got little credit from most observers but Lampard and Drogba were quick to acknowledge the instrumental role played by the club’s owner.
“Roman Abramovich, we wouldn’t be where we are without him pumping in the money and doing what he’s done,” Lampard told the Blues’ official website.
The midfielder added: “It’s been a long journey, a tough one. When he came in, we were a good domestic club, fourth in the league, but he’s took us to a new level with the investment he’s made and he deserves this.”
During his exit interview, Drogba chimed in: “We started a new era [under the owner] and I was lucky to be part of this. We built something really strong in terms of identity. Now you can go everywhere in the world and everyone knows about Chelsea. I see kids in Africa wearing Chelsea jerseys in the streets.
“Chelsea is a brand now and we are very proud to have achieved what we have in eight years. None of this would have been possible without the big boss, Roman Abramovich. If he wasn’t here there would be less chance for me to be at this club, so the best way to repay him was to win the Champions League.”
Jose Bosingwa and Salomon Kalou are two Chelsea players who are unlikely to receive Abramovich’s backing for a new contract this summer, which means the duo will join Drogba on their way out of Stamford Bridge.
Meanwhile, Lampard is reportedly set for an extension that would see him end his career at the club.