Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel described winning the Club World Cup as an “incomparable feeling” as the European champions got their hands on the last major trophy missing from their cabinet.
Kai Havertz repeated his heroics from the Champions League final in May, nervelessly converting a penalty deep into extra time as Chelsea overcame Palmeiras 2-1 on Saturday.
The Blues become the third English club to win the competition after Manchester United and Liverpool.
“Maybe this cup or this tournament is not so highly regarded in Europe, but once you’re here and once you feel it, it totally catches you,” said Tuchel.
“You’re on the bus and you drive in the evening and you see the lights of the stadium, and you don’t know the other team because they don’t come from your country, not from your league, it’s a fantastic feeling.
“And it’s incomparable to any other feeling and so that’s why it’s so beautiful.”
Chelsea’s victory was all the more enjoyable for Tuchel, who only arrived in Abu Dhabi on Friday after a race against the clock following his positive Covid-19 test last week.
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He was forced to leave assistants Zsolt Low and Arno Michels to guide the team in his absence, resorting to video calls to stay in constant contact with players and staff.
“Several times I was on my way to the airport and on the way back from there while I was driving because the test was not negative,” explained Tuchel.
“It was not nice to watch the semi-finals at the office on the screen.
“As a coach, you want to be on the sideline. And I’m happy now that all the effort was worth it and we managed to get the cup.”
Picture perfect. 👌 pic.twitter.com/UUG68eob8N
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 12, 2022
With the missing piece of the jigsaw secure, Tuchel shook hands out on the pitch with club owner Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire whose funds have transformed Chelsea.
“I said congratulations, he said congratulations, and I said ‘It’s for you. It’s your club and it’s your input and your passion that made this possible and we’re happy to be part of it.'”
Chelsea return to Premier League action next weekend against Crystal Palace, the first of four matches in 12 days across four different competitions.
It is a critical stretch for the club this term, but Tuchel said he tried to impress upon his players the need to appreciate this rare moment in the UAE.
“We tried to calm the team down and tell them what a fantastic opportunity it is to play football like this,” he said.
“Every footballer in the world is jealous of having the chance to play this final.
“So many young boys one day dream to be in this final and watch this game, and we reminded ourselves that all of us have been spoiled somehow and it’s also a moment to enjoy.”
For Palmeiras, it was a disappointing end to their second Club World Cup in as many years.
But coach Abel Ferreira expressed pride at what his team has achieved during his reign.
“We’ve built a lot in a very shot period of time here with Palmeiras,” said Ferreira, the Portuguese who was appointed in October 2020.
“I will confide I’m bleeding inside but I’ll forbid my players from not celebrating second place.
“I want them to go the hotel and have a beer and when they get to the plane I’ll tell them to celebrate.”