Lampard: JT to have final role
Frank Lampard has vowed to ensure that John Terry and Chelsea's other banned players have a part to play in the Champions League final.
The Blues arrived back in London on Wednesday morning still pinching themselves after producing one of the greatest recoveries in the history of European football in Tuesday night's semi-final second leg.
Chelsea's comeback from 2-0 and a man down was already being compared to the 'Miracle of Istanbul', the 2005 Champions League final that saw Liverpool recover from 3-0 behind to beat AC Milan.
In some ways, the Blues' 3-2 aggregate success was even more astounding, considering they beat the side some had hailed as the greatest of all time in their own back yard.
And they did so after captain Terry saw red eight minutes before half-time for an inexplicable knee in the back of Alexis Sanchez.
Terry must wait until May 31 to learn the precise length of his suspension but he will definitely sit out the May 19 final in Munich thanks to his moment of madness.
Lampard, who will now captain the side and possibly lift the trophy in the defender's absence, said: "I'm gutted for him because everyone knows how much Chelsea is in his heart.
"On TV, it looks a bit worse than what it was.
"I don't think there's any real malice in it.
"I know John more than anything will want to be involved in that final.
"So, if we win it - or whatever happens on the day - John will be right there with us all, and he'll be celebrating if we win it."
The same applies to Ramires, Branislav Ivanovic and Raul Meireles, all of whom picked up bookings that ruled them out of the Allianz Arena showdown against Bayern Munich or Real Madrid.
"You've got to fee for all of them and they're massive players that we'll miss," Lampard added.
"I don't know what to say, really. That's horrible for them individually.
"We have to fill those holes when the game comes around.
"Whether we win or lose, those players who miss the final take complete credit for being involved anyway."
Having lost Terry after already seen Gary Cahill limp off injury, Chelsea could have been forgiven for throwing in the towel.
Lampard admitted even his own friends gave up hope.
He said: "Looking back at some messages I had at half-time, my mates were messaging each other saying, 'It's going to be impossible now', and I can see what they were thinking.
"But we believed a little bit and, as the game went on, our resolve got even stronger."
The England midfielder, who joined the Blues almost 11 years ago, added of the result: "It's the greatest at Chelsea that I've been involved in and probably ever.
"I know it's not a final, I know there's no medals on the table yet.
"But, as a one-off, it's absolutely huge."
Such has been the manner of Chelsea's revival since caretaker boss Roberto Di Matteo replaced sacked manager Andre Villas-Boas just over seven weeks ago, it is tempting to think their long wait for Champions League glory is destined to end this season.
"I wish it worked like that," Lampard said.
"Football has ups and downs across the board, not just this year.
"I have had ups and downs throughout my career. You have to keep your head in difficult times.
"We have all had to do that at times this season. For a Chelsea that has had a 'bad' season, we haven't done too bad so far."
Having masterminded a Champions League semi-final victory over Barca and led Chelsea to the brink of FA Cup glory as well, Di Matteo has gone from rank outsider for the manager's job to one of the favourites.
Lampard said: "I can't speak highly enough of him.
"Look at our record - it's not a coincidence. He has got the group with an atmosphere, he has created a spirit and determination.
"The players were here anyway but what he has done in bringing them together and getting results like that and others from before is amazing."
Lampard also hailed Fernando Torres after the £50million striker came off the bench to seal the aggregate win, by far his finest hour in a Chelsea shirt.
"The best players perform on the biggest stages," Lampard said.
"The coolness of his finish and the relief he gave us all - he fully deserves that as an individual."