Thomas Tuchel nearly missed the Club World Cup final after several positive Covid-19 tests but reveals he just about made it – and dedicates the trophy to owner Roman Abramovich
- Manager Thomas Tuchel has admitted he nearly missed the Club World Cup final
- The Chelsea boss missed the semi-final but was in Abu Dhabi as his side won 2-1
- After beating Palmeiras, he dedicated the trophy to owner Roman Abramovich
Thomas Tuchel has revealed he almost missed out on joining Chelsea for their Club World Cup triumph after a string of positive Covid tests.
The Blues manager had served his statutory five days of Covid isolation after initially testing positive last weekend, and passed two negative lateral flow tests, which released him from quarantine.
But he required a negative PCR test to board his flight and, because it is far more sensitive, he kept testing positive.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has admitted he nearly missed the Club World Cup final due to several positive Covid-19 tests; in the end he saw his side beat Palmeiras 2-1 in Abu Dhabi
‘Several times I was on my way to the airport, then on my way back because the (PCR) test was not negative. I finally made it, arrived for dinner on Saturday, on time, though I had no chance to be part of training,’ Tuchel said.
‘It was back and forth and we were running out of flights. This flight was second to last chance to make it. The last chance would have been to arrive this morning. I took the meetings today, tried to do as normal but it was my first day here and now we leave.’
He also revealed that he was a bad spectator for the semi-final against Al-Hilal, cooped up in his home office. ‘It was not nice to watch the semi in the office,’ he said. ‘As coach you want to be on sidelines. For the semi-final I was walking up and down in my office. I had game screen and tactical screen, two big screens.
‘I was in contact at half-time and in the second half with my assistants but it’s not like I’m constantly talking, it’s more like every 10 or 15 minutes. It’s very strange, because coaching is also about feeling, so you also need to feel the impact of guys on the sideline. For me, you need to have the closeness to the game and the players.’
Tuchel dedicated the win to owner Roman Abramovich (right), who flew in to watch the match
Tuchel dedicated the win to owner Roman Abramovich, who had flown in for a rare visit to watch the team he has transformed, now winning 21 trophies in the 19 years since he took the club over in 2003.
He said: ‘This was for him, no doubt. I met him shortly on the pitch after the final. He said congratulations and I said congratulations. I said; “It’s for you, your club, your impact, your passion that makes this possible.” Of course the trophy was for him.’
Tuchel paid tribute to Kai Havertz, who sealed the victory with a 117th-minute penalty in extra time, adding to his Champions League final winner last May. ‘It seems like he likes finals,’ said Tuchel. ‘It’s not easy to shoot this penalty. If you win a late penalty you are also lucky but we deserved it because we never stopped trying.’
Havertz admitted he was anxious stepping up, with regular penalty takers Jorginho and Romelu Lukaku on the bench. ‘I was (nervous),’ he said. ‘It’s a big penalty, a big goal again, it’s just crazy.
The German also praised compatriot Kai Havertz (centre), who scored the winning penalty
‘It was good that I kept my nerves and I’m very happy. I was the third penalty taker, Jorgi and Rom were out and I was the only one on the pitch. The other players gave me their trust. Everyone said: “You do it”. And I did it.’
Tuchel added; ‘Maybe this cup and tournament not so highly regarded in Europe but once you’re here it totally catches you.
‘On the bus, you see the lights and stadium and it’s a final and you don’t know other team because they’re not from your league. It’s a fantastic feeling, incomparable to any other feeling.
‘It was beautiful to play this game and a huge task. We struggle in this moment, we don’t play our best football but, as Petr Cech says many times, we managed to find a way to win. For this, the team deserves full credit.’
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