Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy has become the first African goalkeeper to win a Champions League title, in its current form, after Chelsea beat Manchester City in tonight’s final.
According to records, Zimbabwe’s Bruce Grobbelaar won the titles during the European Cup era in 1984 with Liverpool.
As far back as 37 years ago, Zimbabwe goalkeeper Grobbelaar became the first African player to feature in a European Cup final, with the Liverpool stopper influential as the Reds defeated AS Roma on penalties in 1984.
He was almost a two-time winner, only for Liverpool to fall short against Juventus in the 1985 final.
Mendy’s Senegal countryman Tony Sylva, understudy to Flavio Roma in the AS Monaco team that were defeated by Jose Mourinho’s FC Porto in the 2005 final, was the next African keeper who came closest to the title.
For Sylva, the presence of role models — pioneering Cameroon goalkeepers Joseph-Antoine Bell and Thomas N’Kono — was a key reason why he believed that a career in Europe as a goalkeeper was possible as a youngster.
Mendy has been outstanding since signing from Rennes at the beginning of the season.
During the final, City pressed high but struggled to trouble Edouard Mendy in the Chelsea goal, while at the other end Timo Werner should have done better than shoot straight at Ederson in the 14th minute.
Chelsea then suffered an injury blow as an emotional Thiago Silva was forced off hurt, Andreas Christensen taking the Brazilian’s place in central defence.
Yet it was they who opened the scoring in the 42nd minute, Mason Mount’s ball splitting the City defence with John Stones out of position, allowing Havertz — their marquee 71 million-pound ($100m) signing last summer — to go around the lunging Ederson and convert into an empty net.
City now needed to break down a Chelsea defence that has been exceptional since Tuchel came in.
But they lost De Bruyne just before the hour mark, the brilliant Belgian taken out in a collision with Antonio Ruediger that appeared to leave him concussed.
He came off in tears, and Guardiola instead turned to Sergio Aguero for the latter stages, but there was to be no glorious send-off as a City player for the Argentine, even if a Riyad Mahrez shot sailed just over in the sixth minute of injury time.
There was also no third European Cup for Guardiola, who remains one adrift of the record for the coaches with most wins in the competition, held jointly by Bob Paisley, Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane.