It was the 87th minute in Chelsea’s quarter-final second leg against Paris Saint-Germain when Demba Ba joined Chelsea’s long line of African greats to write Champions League history.
The Senegalese scored the deciding goal in Chelsea’s 2-0 comeback against the French champions, to help them to level the score after PSG’s 3-1 home victory and progress on away goals.
Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, had brought Ba onto the pitch in the 66th minute and later claimed he wanted to give him the feeling that he is more than Chelsea’s number three striker. Was this the real reason or did Mourinho hope for another glimmer of brilliance from Africa?
Ba is joined by the heroics of his teammate Samuel Eto’o, who has scored Chelsea’s important 1-0 against Galatasaray in the return leg of the round of last-16, Chelsea progressed 3-1 on aggregate.
Mourinho was so desperate to start the ageing Cameroon international against PSG on Tuesday that he even risked worsening Eto’o’s recent injury.
Ba’s goal ensured that he and Eto’o are in line to join African greats, such as Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, John Obi Mikel and Salomon Kalou, who all wrote Champions League history with the Blues.
Drogba is probably Africa’s most-known Champions League hero. In the 2012 Champions League final in Munich he scored the late 1-1 equalizer for his side as well as the final penalty kick in the following shootout to help Chelsea triumph over Bayern Munich.
The Ivorian had also scored the only goal in the first leg of Chelsea’s semi-final clash with Barcelona, a tie which the Blues would win 3-2 on aggregate to progress to the 2012 final.
Then there is John Obi Mikel, probably one of the most underrated footballers of our time. The Nigerian played alongside Drogba in the 2012 Champions League final and was seen as a major pillar of Chelsea’s success, ‘putting out fires everywhere’.
Michael Essien was also part Chelsea’s squad which won the Champions League in 2012, but he didn’t feature in the final after his injury problems in previous campaigns. His best moments in the competition had come in earlier.
The Nigerian is perhaps most remembered for his a stunning left-footed volley in the second leg of the 2009 semi-final against Barcelona, a tie that Chelsea ultimately lost on away goals. The goal, however, was voted Chelsea’s goal of the season.
Another underrated African was Drogba’s Ivory Coast teammate, Salomon Kalou. The striker netted a vital away goal in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final with Benfica in 2012. Chelsea won the tie 3-1 on aggregate, Kalou continued his vital role in the campaign and started the final in Munich as well.
Drogba, Mikel, Essien and Kalou were all part of the Chelsea team which was only stopped by penalties in the 2007-08 Champions League final against Manchester United. In fact, Drogba was supposed to take the deciding penalty which John Terry missed, had he not been sent off in the 117th minute.
Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o would surely join the line of African greats, if they could help Chelsea on their path to win the second Champions League trophy in the club’s history.
Can Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o become Chelsea's new great Africans who lead the club to Champions League success? Have your say in the comment section below.