John Terry declared Chelsea's historic Champions League comeback against Napoli proved English football is "still going strong".
The Blues salvaged both their European season and some pride for the Barclays Premier League with a stunning performance to reach the quarter-finals of the game's elite club competition. England was in danger of having no team in the last eight of the Champions League for the first time since 1996.
But Chelsea became only the fourth club to overturn a first-leg deficit of two goals or more by winning 4-1 after extra time to seal a 5-4 aggregate win. Asked about the state of English football, which many had bemoaned following the exits of Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal, Terry said: "It's still going strong."
The same could be said of Chelsea's old guard judging by their contribution to last night's win, in which Terry, Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard all scored. The men sacked manager Andre Villas-Boas seemed so determined to discard - and who were accused of running the dressing room - proved just how difficult they would be to replace.
That trio - and goalkeeper Petr Cech, who was also outstanding - have been part of many great European nights. But Terry admitted Wednesday night's win was as good as it got, saying: "This could top them all, for sure. It was really impressive watching the lads fight to the end.
"First and foremost, that's what we're about - that desire, that togetherness and sticking together when it really mattered. We showed what Chelsea are really made of."
Lampard was not bothered who Chelsea drew in the last eight, with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich looking by far the toughest of the seven opponents they could face. He said: "We're just happy to be in the hat. If we play with that ability and desire, we can take on anybody."
Caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo, who has now masterminded a hat-trick of wins since succeeding Villas-Boas, could hardly contain himself after the final whistle, racing on to the pitch and hugging everyone in sight. He said: "We made history and knew that it would take a lot to win.
"Some of the players couldn't even run at the end because they had cramp but they just kept fighting. Everybody was incredible.
"You could see how much it meant to the players. Everybody was very happy, delighted at the end that we'd managed to stay in the Champions League after such a big performance. I've had some great nights, I have to say. But it will probably go down in the club's history to have come back from a two-goal deficit in the first leg."