PORTO, Portugal (AP) – Christian Pulisic became the first American to make a Champions League final on Saturday. He walked away with a winner’s medal too – and almost a goal.
The Chelsea forward stepped in as a 66th-minute substitute with his side leading Manchester City 1-0 at Porto.
See: Chelsea beat Manchester City to become European football champion for second time
Pulisic, 22, who joined Chelsea from German club Borussia Dortmund in 2019, had a chance to double the lead by passing the ball over City goalkeeper Ederson Moraes, but he passed widely to the 73rd.
“I would have liked to put aside the luck I had,” he said. “I didn’t quite get what I wanted, but in the end this team… we were still going to win this game and I’m so proud of them.
Pulisic, from Hershey, Pa., Celebrated with his parents after the final whistle at the Estadio do Dragao. He posed with the Champions League trophy in an American sweatshirt.
His second season with Chelsea was hampered by lingering hamstring injuries leading up to Christmas, but he has played an increasingly influential role since the arrival of German manager Thomas Tuchel. Pulisic had played in the German Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund from 2015 to 2019, including a year with the club’s youth team.
“I am so proud, so proud to be here,” he said. “It has been a difficult road for me. I couldn’t imagine winning the Champions League in my life. Now I’m here and it’s just crazy.
Pulisic is the second American to win the Champions League, after Jovan Kirovski in 1997. Kirovski won with Dortmund but did not make the final, making only two substitutes in the group stage.
Another American, goalkeeper Zack Steffen, was an unused replacement for City.