Darren Fletcher revealed how a chess-inspired team speech motivated Manchester United to their third European Cup triumph in a dramatic final against Chelsea in 2008.
12 years ago Thursday, United won in the very first all-English Champions League final against Avram Grant’s Blues in Moscow.
It’s a game famous for John Terry’s iconic slip as he took Chelsea’s fifth penalty shootout, and the devastation of the skipper – and uncontrollable sobs – when his miss cost his trophy. side.
With a chance to win the match and give Chelsea their first ever European Cup, the Blues skipper slipped, skewed the post and United won 6-5 locally after the match ended either finished 1-1 after an overtime. .
It was a tough and tough game in Moscow, with United dominating in the first half and Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of them after 26 minutes.
But Frank Lampard caught a goal just before the break to keep the London club in the competition, before a tense, scoreless battle in the second period.
Fletcher joined The Sports Bar on talkSPORT to reflect on the game and remembered how Fergie gave his players and restless team the word before the game that inspired their victory.
Speaking to Andy Goldstein and Jason Cundy on Thursday evening, he said, “I knew I was not going to start the game – I just came back from a knee injury that I had at the last minute of a friendly match for Scotland, so I was coming back for the semi-final against Barcelona.
“We had a great team and my concern was to be on the bench and whether I would have a chance to participate, and luckily I was chosen for the bench.
“Something that comes to my mind about the match is that UEFA gave the club a really cool final glass chess game from the Champions League, and Alex Ferguson mentioned it in his speech before the match.
“He explained how this match was going to look like a chess match in terms of how you keep possession, how to pull people out of position, how your concentration has to be 100% at all times and a mistake can cost you.
“He also talked about the guys who weren’t on the team.”
There have been a number of notable United team admissions to Moscow.
After missing the 1999 suspension final, Fergie had guaranteed a starting spot for Paul Scholes, while Owen Hargreaves and Michael Carrick also started, which meant favorite Park Ji-Sung, who played in the two legs from the semifinal against Barcelona, didn’t start and was not even on the bench.
Club legend Ryan Giggs didn’t start either, but was named on the bench, while the French striker and number 9 of the club Louis Saha were also excluded from the team of the day.
But Fletcher said Fergie had a way to make every player feel like a member of the title winning team, whether or not he actually played.
“Ferguson said,” This is how hard it has been, that’s why I believe so much in this team, look at the guys who aren’t on the team, look at the guys who aren’t even on the team bench “.
“It may seem like nothing, but it means a lot to the guys. It may be a little consolation, but it makes your players who start out how privileged and lucky they are.
“Obviously, they won it too, but to be part of this great team and how some guys are absent, he said:” Go and win for them, yourself, for everyone “.