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MUNICH, Germany - Roberto Di Matteo refused to be drawn on his future at Chelsea after leading the Premier League giants to a historic first Champions League crown against Bayern Munich on Saturday.
The 41-year-old’s future at Stamford Bridge has been shrouded in uncertainty ever since he took over from the sacked Andre Villas-Boas in March, with Di Matteo largely viewed as a stop-gap appointment.
Russian owner Roman Abramovich is reportedly determined to persuade former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola to help rebuild Chelsea but may now decide that Di Matteo’s claims on the vacancy are impossible to ignore.
A smiling Abramovich gave Di Matteo a warm embrace at the Allianz Arena on Saturday after Chelsea’s veteran striker Didier Drogba had struck the winning penalty to complete a 4-3 shoot-out win.
However Di Matteo was giving nothing away as reporters questioned him on whether he wished to stay at Chelsea.
“What I discuss with the boss we don’t discuss publicly,” Di Matteo said.
"And it’s irrelevant, I’ve said that for three months. I’m happy with the role I’ve been given and whatever the future holds for me I will accept.
“Whatever the club decides I will respect, it’s as simple as that.” Since taking over from Villas-Boas, Di Matteo has presided in a striking revival of Chelsea’s season, with the Champions League win following victory over Liverpool in the FA Cup final at Wembley two weeks ago.
However Di Matteo insisted that Villas-Boas should take a share of the credit for Chelsea’s success.
“I think AVB deserves credit because he started last summer with this team, and built the foundation for it,” he said. “I’m very grateful to him that he called me to work with him. We have a fantastic relationship.” Defeat on Saturday would have seen Chelsea fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League, and Di Matteo said the importance of reaching the 2012/2013 competition could not be overestimated.
“It makes a huge difference for the future of our club, we also said that it was crucial to be involved in the Champions League and winning tonight qualifies us for next season’s competition,” he said.
“It’s a double-whammy for us in a positive sense.” Di Matteo also took particular satisfaction from the fact that Chelsea were finally able to lay the ghost of their 2008 Moscow final defeat against Manchester United to rest.
“I’m very pleased for the players,” he said. “They’ve worked hard for many many years to achieve this objective. Four years ago they had a painful experience, but tonight fortunately they are on the other side.
“We went very close to winning it four years ago, a lot of the players thought ’Okay we’ll qualify again for another final’ and it didn’t come. It’s a difficult competition to win, and you have to take your chance when it comes.” - AFP