Gary Cahill hailed Chelsea’s Premier League title triumph as the perfect response to the critics who wrote them off earlier this season.
Antonio Conte’s side were crowned champions after a 1-0 win at West Bromwich Albion on Friday in a triumph that was unimaginable when Chelsea slumped to dismal defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal back in September.
Conte, in his first season in charge, faced questions about his suitability for the English game, while many of his players were written off as fading forces.
But the Blues gave the perfect response, ignoring the doubters to clinch the club’s second title in three seasons.
“You have to cherish these moments, you work so hard all season to be where we are. Consistently we have been the best team in the league,” Chelsea defender Cahill said.
“People have written us off as a team and individually and this has shut them up.
“We are champions. There is no better feeling in football. It’s another one in the cabinet.”
Chelsea’s title party at the Hawthorns was sparked by a most unlikely hero as Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi came off the bench to score his first league goal since August.
Batshuayi’s close-range finish in the 82nd minute sparked wild celebrations from Conte, his coaching staff and Chelsea’s jubilant players and fans.
Asked if it was the best moment of his career, Batshuayi said: “For sure, yes. It’s good. It’s the best day for Chelsea today.
“Everybody is happy, It’s great to take the trophy.”
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas admitted the pressure of trying to finish off the title race had contributed to a less than dominant display from his side.
“To be honest I thought it might be one of those days,” he said.
“We were maybe a bit nervous because of the pressure, we knew we had to win to be champions.”
But Fabregas saluted Batshuayi for the decisive contribution that capped an incredible year for Conte, who has had the midas touch with just about every significant move he has made.
“This is the beauty of football. The winning goal comes from a player that hasn’t been involved so much. Football is f*****g unbelievable,” Fabregas said.
John Terry remains Chelsea’s club captain despite hardly playing this season, but Cahill is the current holder of the armband and the pair will lift the trophy together during the official presentation next week.
“We will lift it together of course. Gaz has been playing week in and week out and has been a different class,” Terry said.