Chelsea put themselves together from the heartbreak of the 2008 Champions League final loss to Manchester United and had another good Champions League in 2009 which should have ended in another final with Manchester United.
It was the semifinal of the 2009 Champions League against Barcelona, the first leg ended 0-0 at Camp Nou. Michael Essien put Chelsea ahead at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea had four penalty appeals denied by referee Tom Henning Ovrebo, to add insult to injury, Andres Iniesta scored a last minute equaliser to send Barcelona through.
“It was chaos in the tunnel and the dressing room afterwards,” Mikel told the Athletic. “Bottles, things flying everywhere. Tables were being smashed. Everyone was shouting and screaming.
“Mind you, one could say that was normal after that Chelsea team lost games! I don’t know about now but losing back then was definitely not acceptable at all… but that was a really crazy night. Drogba lost it on the pitch and then it just carried on from there.”
Barcelona were eventual winners and the night summed up heartbreaks for many of the players in the dressing room who had lost four semifinals and a final before that time. It all summed up the joy and gave more meaning to their eventual triumph in 2012.
Guus Hiddink was Chelsea’s boss then, on interim basis after Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked. Mikel has nothing but absolute respect for the Dutch; “He was another who was like a father figure to me,” he said.
“Everybody called him ‘my dad’ in the club. A great guy, a lovely man on and off the pitch. Everyone looked up to him and respected him enormously.”