Joe Cole has called on the Chelsea players to enjoy the occasion leading up to tonight’s Champions League final but advised them to try to focus and prepare in the way they usually would.
Our former midfielder spoke to us out in Porto ahead of tonight’s final against Manchester City, with Cole also recalling his memories of the build-up to the 2008 final and how one moment from that day in particular encouraged him to offer a word of advice to Mason Mount, when chatting to the midfielder earlier this week.
‘I told Mason not to look at the trophy,’ explains Joe. ‘Which might sound a little strange but it was something I did in 2008 and I think it put me out of my zone ever so slightly.
‘It was from a personal experience and I told Mason [not to look at the trophy] just to try and minimise things before the game. The only time in 2008 that it felt like a Champions League final to me was when we saw the trophy.
‘When I saw the trophy, it just threw me off kilter a little bit. I didn’t have a particularly good game in the final myself, me and Patrice Evra just cancelled each other out, but I did just feel that my routine had been interrupted ever so slightly.
‘What I said to Mason was just to play the game and not the occasion, focus as you normally would do and just enjoy. I was 28 when I played in the final, which was my first and last. Mason is a young lad with his career ahead of him and hopefully this will be the first of many Champions League finals he plays in with Chelsea.’
The city of Porto is hosting this season’s final and there have been plenty of Chelsea and City fans arriving in Portugal ahead of the game, which is to be played in front of a small amount of spectators.
Joe, who is out here working the game for BT Sport, said the players will feel the excitement of the game but it’s important to channel those emotions ahead of a game that he feels offers more pressure to Man City than the Blues.
‘The players will feel the buzz leading up to the game but at the end of the day, they have to be professional footballers and just try and channel that as they normally would, prepare in the same way they have been doing all season,’ added Cole.
‘Nobody within the club would have expected Chelsea to be in this position at the turn of the year. It was more of a hope, whereas for City I think it was more of an expectation. They’ve never won the Champions League and they brought Pep Guardiola in for this project, so I think the pressure is on them a little more than Chelsea.
‘Thomas Tuchel has come in at Chelsea and done a really good job and it’s going to be really interesting seeing him and Pep go up against one another again. Tuchel obviously had the upper hand in the two recent games, but this is a final and anything can happen.’