JOHN Terry revealed how nine years of Champions League heartache simply melted away after he and Chelsea finally got their hands on the European Cup.
Even Terry's own disappointment at his self-inflicted suspension for the epic triumph over Bayern Munich vanished as he and stand-in captain Frank Lampard hoisted aloft the biggest prize in club football against all the odds.
It ended an odyssey both Terry and Roman Abramovich had set out on when the latter bought Chelsea in 2003, and an obsession the club had arguably had since they were denied entry to the inaugural European Cup in 1955.
Describing it as his greatest moment in football, Terry said: "Incredible feeling. I've waited so long for it, you know, and for it to finally be here wipes away all those bad memories.
"Year after year, we've had some, but that completely wipes it away.
"For me, that's what we strived for."
Terry has been Chelsea captain for all nine of their attempts to win the Champions League under billionaire owner Abramovich, suffering four semi-final defeats and an agonising loss in the 2008 final when the defender missed a penalty to win the game. He added: "Eight, nine years, I've been waiting for this. Being knocked out of competitions in the last minute, losing on penalties before in Moscow and losing against Liverpool, that's something that lived with me.
"But, all of a sudden, a big weight is off my shoulders and probably everyone within this football club."
Unlike Moscow, Terry was forced to watch the penalty shootout victory from the sidelines thanks to his senseless semi-final sending-off.
"I can live with that, I really can, because the club have won," he said.
"Things are just meant to be. And I wasn't meant to play. We've gone on to win it and, for me, that's all that matters because I care about this football club so much. And to see us win the trophy that I feel we deserve and to see the smile on the owner's face and those fans at the end, they deserve it."
Terry's ban did not prevent him - and Chelsea's other three suspended stars - taking a full part in the on-field celebrations.
"That's something that will live with me forever, and if that would've been taken away, that would've been really hard to take," the 31-year-old added.