Interviews

Robben: Losing to Chelsea in 2012 was a huge low – but I fought back

Arjen Robben has told FourFourTwo that while his 2012 Champions League Final penalty miss was a bitter pill to swallow, it built his character

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Bayern Munich were moments away from becoming only the third team to lift the European Cup in their own stadium – after Real Madrid in 1957 and Inter in 1965 – when Didier Drogba's 88th-minute header hauled Chelsea level at the Allianz Arena, cancelling out Thomas Muller's effort.

The Ivorian striker went from hero to zero during extra time, upending Franck Ribery inside the penalty area and handing Robben the chance to kill off his former club's hopes from the spot. However, the Dutchman’s driven kick was kept out by Petr Cech, who later denied Ivica Olic and Bastian Schweinsteiger in the shootout as the Blues secured a first Champions League crown.

Fortunately for Robben, redemption was only 12 months away. Die Roten bounced back by winning the 2013 final against Borussia Dortmund, with their 89th-minute winner scored by Robben.

And the 34-year-old says his two contrasting finals showcased the character an elite footballer needs in order to be a success. Speaking exclusively in the May 2018 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, he says: “It [the 2012 final] was a huge low point for me and very disappointing for everyone. We were in our own stadium and went 1-0 up. Unfortunately they equalised and then I missed a penalty.

It was like the script for a film or a book. I missed a penalty against Chelsea the previous year, and then 12 months on I scored the winner. It’s a great example of the sort of character needed to achieve success

“They were the first ones to miss in the shootout, too. When you miss a crucial penalty it’s very, very hard, but you have to recover from that. We recovered very well the following year and proved that we were still a great team at Wembley.

“It was like the script for a film or a book. I missed a penalty against Chelsea the previous year, and then 12 months on I scored the winner. I believe it’s a great example of the sort of character needed to achieve success. If you have a massive setback, you have to stand up and fight back, and I did that.”

Victory at Wembley was also imperative for Robben, who explains that, after tasting defeat with Bayern in both the 2010 and 2012 finals, a third successive disappointment was unthinkable.

“Before the third final against Dortmund, there was incredible pressure,” he says. “While my mindset was very positive and I was convinced we’d win at Wembley, I was also thinking, ‘I can’t play in three Champions League finals and lose all of them’ – nobody wants that label on their career.”

Read the full interview with Arjen Robben in the May 2018 issue of FourFourTwo magazine. A World Cup icons special, we hail the heroes and headline moments from all 20 tournaments since 1930, and hear from Brazil legend Ronaldo about how he turned his France 98 heartbreak into Golden Boot glory four years later. Plus, Henrikh Mkhitaryan tells us how he plans to write his name in Arsenal history, 1860 Munich fans reveal why they are loving life back at their old ground in the German fourth tier, and we run down the top 50 players in the Football League. Order a copy today, then become a subscriber!