Brendan Rodgers described Leicester’s FA Cup win over Chelsea as a historic, proud moment for the club, after they got their hands on the famous trophy for the very first time.
Appearing in their first FA Cup final in 52 years, Leicester emerged victorious thanks to Youri Tielemans’ stunning long-range strike, and survived late VAR drama when a Ben Chilwell effort was ruled out for offside.
Rodgers said the presence of supporters in the stadium made it even more special and praised the “courage” of his players.
“I’m very proud. It’s a historical day for the football club, winning the FA Cup for the first time in their history, and clearly a special day,” he said.
“I’m so happy for the players, they were so courageous in the game. For the supporters, who have lost four finals. And for [Leicester owner Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha] ‘Top’ and his family, it’s a dream of theirs to win the FA Cup and we’ve been able to deliver that.
“I thought it was a really good game, a classic FA Cup final game. We were playing against the Champions League finalists so we knew it would be tough, we’d have to suffer. But I thought we were well worthy of the win. We pressed the game really well, took them to the side of the field we wanted to, and when we had the ball we showed courage with it.
“I always felt we were a real threat in the game and when we got to 1-0… an amazing goal by Youri. And I’ve got to mention Kasper Schmeichel, that was also a really special save by a top-class goalkeeper. The players defended magnificently to keep a clean sheet.”
Rodgers also said part of the motivation for joining Leicester, after spells with Liverpool and Celtic, was to upset the odds against traditional heavyweights on days such as Saturday.
“Every trophy you win is special,” he said. “This was my seventh final as a manager and luckily I’ve been able to win all seven. But you can only do that with players who have courage, a mentality and you see the spirit in the squad.
“I’m proud on a personal front to do it for Leicester City but more for me to see happiness on supporters’ faces, on Top’s face and for the players it’s a special day.
“It was the big challenge I wanted to take coming to Leicester. Could I go to a club outside of the top six and challenge and disrupt that higher up the league? We’ll always be a way behind in terms of a financial perspective but can we compete, can we perform and fight to challenge and on days like today, when you have opportunity to create history, can you do it? Thankfully we’ve been able to do that.”
Tuchel: We were unlucky
Meanwhile, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel refused to criticise his side and instead put their defeat down to falling on the wrong side of fine margins, from Tielemans’ winner to the offside call on Chilwell.
“Of course we’re disappointed, but not angry with our performance and on our boys,” said Tuchel. “I thought our performance was enough to win it, but today we were simply unlucky.
“We’ve never hidden the fact that you need luck in this game to be able to win at this level. You need a certain momentum, little details and decision-making from the referee. Sometimes, with a shot [from Tielemans] like today… we defended really well and were very aggressive in counter-pressing.
“We defended up high the pitch and we didn’t allow any half-chances for one of the most dangerous counter-attacking teams in Europe. I was absolutely happy with the work rate and intensity.
“But we were a bit too hectic with our decision-making in the first half, going too straight up front, trying to force the solution too fast. We had some unnecessary ball losses and some unprecise decision-making.
“We had two against three situations that were more promising than we made of it. We had a big chance with [Cesar] Azpilicueta… maybe the biggest in the whole game, and in the second half we controlled the match even more.
“We were completely in the opponent’s half but then we conceded a goal out of nothing. It’s a fantastic goal but it’s a lucky goal.
“We had a big chance with Mason [Mount] which brought a fantastic save from [Kasper] Schmeichel and then we had an offside goal so we were unlucky today. When you arrive in the final, you have no guarantee of the trophy. I thought we deserved to win but we have to accept that we were unlucky today.”
Looking ahead to Tuesday, when the teams meet again in a crucial top-four race clash at Stamford Bridge, Tuchel called on his players to respond in the right way.
“There’s nothing much to do – we just have to focus on our performance [in the next games],” he said.
“In a final, you normally make an excuse and say you don’t care how you perform, you just take any win and get your hands on the trophy, but in general we are about the performance. Now, we must focus on what we did well and get ready for Tuesday.
“There’s no team in sport who doesn’t lose. Now it’s about bouncing back and showing our mentality and belief. We miss a trophy which we’re very sad about not winning but we now have two finals against Leicester and Aston Villa as well as another final [against Man City]. We cannot regret for too long.”
Chelsea and Leicester meet again on Tuesday in the Premier League, live on Sky Sports from 8pm; kick-off 8.15pm.