Mikel Obi’s next guest is legendary Chelsea boss who outdid Prime Guardiola

Mikel Obi’s next guest is legendary Chelsea boss who outdid Prime Guardiola
Credit: Icon Sport

As announced on Saturday morning, The Obi One Podcast run by John Mikel Obi and Chris McHardy will be hosting a legendary Chelsea coach.

The man who guided the Blues to their first Champions League title, Roberto Di Matteo, has been announced as the show's next guest.

Di Matteo led Chelsea to a famous Champions League victory in 2012 over Jupp Heynckes' Bayern Munich to cement his status as a club legend.

Roberto Di Matteo was a former Chelsea player

Di Matteo signed for Chelsea from Lazio in 1996 and later became a fan-favourite with the Blues faithful as a player.

He netted in two FA Cup finals and one League Cup final – all of which the Blues won – and his stunning strike against Middlesbrough after 42 seconds in 1997 was the fastest FA Cup final goal at Wembley at the time.

However, his playing career with Chelsea was cut short by a broken leg that forced him into early retirement at the age of 31 in February 2002.

But almost a decade later, he would return to the club, first as an assistant to Andre Villas-Boas, and then as interim manager after the Portuguese was sacked in March 2012.

Roberto Di Matteo's difficult task as interim Chelsea boss

One of his first challenges as manager of Chelsea was to overturn a 3-1 first-leg deficit against Napoli in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Roberto Di Matteo, former Chelsea boss
Credit: Icon Sport

In a bid to do so, he made four changes to the side beaten in Italy, recalling John Terry, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Michael Essien to the starting line-up.

The move to recall these players worked greatly as Lampard and Terry both scored, along with Didier Drogba and Branislav Ivanovic, and Chelsea won 4-1 on extra-time in brilliant fashion.

“I selected a group of players with a lot of experience, who were comfortable playing with each other,” explained Di Matteo after the win.

“It was one of those nights that will be remembered as one of the greatest European nights at Chelsea.”

At the time, while the odds were stacked against Chelsea that night, Terry said the arrival of Di Matteo had given the Blues the lift they needed at the right time.

“The manager changed and there was just something that happened,” said the Chelsea captain.

“Robbie came in and he deserves an awful lot of credit for what he brought to us. There were four or five big moments from Napoli at home that led us to where we were [in Munich] and there are little things I look back on and think ‘that was a great touch from him'.”

John Terry and Mikel Obi during the Champions League celebration, 2012
Credit: Icon Sport

The road to Munich

Chelsea were paired with Napoli in the Round of 16. After losing the first leg 3-1, interim manager Di Matteo helped the club to beat the odds and progress 5-4 on aggregate after Chelsea staged a 4-1 comeback at Stamford Bridge.

Following their dramatic win over Napoli, Chelsea beat Benfica 3-1 on aggregate to advance to the semi-finals where they met the brilliant Barcelona side.

How Roberto di Matteo outdid Pep Guardiola in the semi-final

Chelsea gained the upper hand against defending champions Barcelona in the last four thanks to a 1-0 win at the Bridge, after a first-half Drogba goal against the run of play in the first leg.

In the second leg, Barcelona deservedly took the lead from a Sergio Busquets strike and things got worse for the Blues less than two minutes later when Terry got sent off in the 37th minute.

Barca went 2-0 ahead and 2-1 on aggregate as Andres Iniesta scored for the Catalans with defeat staring into the faces of the players.

“Everything that you can imagine that can go wrong in one game went wrong,” added Di Matteo. “All I was thinking was let’s not concede one more, we still only need one to go through.”

Not only did Chelsea not concede again, but they pulled a goal back before the break thanks to a sublime chip from Ramires, and then secured their place in the final with a late breakaway goal from Fernando Torres after Lionel Messi had missed a 49th-minute penalty.

“It’s difficult to explain the emotions we went through in that game and what it meant for our players to be able to go to the final,” explained Di Matteo.

The final

Chelsea had lost a Champions League final to Manchester United four years earlier, so, in a bid to try and relax the players before the game against Bayern Munich, Di Matteo arranged for their wives and children to talk and say how proud they were of their husbands and fathers.

“It was such a nice touch,” said Terry, who was suspended for the final after his dismissal against Barcelona.

“It was one thing that will never leave me from that year. Even the younger players in the dressing room had their parents speaking and welcoming them and wishing them good luck.”

The final turned out to be a tense affair where Mikel Obi played the entirety of the game that was ultimately decided on penalties following a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes.

The early advantage was with Bayern after Juan Mata missed but Petr Cech denied Ivica Olic and Bastian Schweinsteiger hit the post, allowing Drogba to beat Manuel Neuer to secure victory for Chelsea.

Roberto Di Matteo, former Chelsea coach
Credit: Icon Sport

“That group of players deserved that success because they had been so successful at Chelsea,” said Di Matteo.

“That was an immense moment of their career to finally win the Champions League.”

Di Matteo’s reward then was a two-year contract at the end of the season but he would only see out four months of it as he was sacked in November of that year.

Mikel Obi trophies at Chelsea

The 2013 AFCON winner with Nigeria won four FA Cup titles to go with his two Premier League wins.

He also claimed the UEFA Champions League in 2011/12 and the UEFA Europa League the following year.

Obi won 10 trophies in all in his stay at Chelsea.

Mikel Obi net worth

As of 2023, Obi has an estimated net worth of US$45 million, making him one of the richest African footballers in the world.

Mikel Obi Podcast is growing

Obi has invited several players and managers to his podcast. Players like Terry, Lampard, Drogba and many more have made their debut at the show where they've shared thoughts about their time together in the past.

Mikel, on his show, has shared several key moments and happenings with a training bust-up revelation with Florent Malouda in time past.

He has also invited former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, and it will be a pleasure for Chelsea fans to see their former coach Di Matteo make an appearance in the show.

This article was most recently revised and updated 3 months ago

Joseph is a graduate engineer turned sports writer, he has covered lots of sports stories, match previews and predictions across various leagues on the planet.