Legend: Didier Drogba
Martin Tyler: “HE’S DONE IT! The greatest night in the history of Chelsea Football Club! European Champions! They’ve beaten Bayern in their own backyard! They’ve found the Holy Grail after an adventure fraught with danger! And Drogba may never play for Chelsea again, he’ll never be forgotten. He’s immortal at this football club.”
Gary Neville: “It can never get better than this for English football, in this season the most incredible season. The 19th of May 2012, FIFA, UEFA, stop, FOOTBALLLL!!!!”
Tyler: “But then it was Drogba, and Drogba, and here, Drogba. The last kick, the winning kick. The man who lives for finals. The bigger the occasion, the better the response.”
Neville: “They’re crying. It was Drogba, it was the angels, it was the heavens, it was the stars, it was the gods, it was everything for Chelsea. This is not anything to do with football. This is more than football, this is spirit. Never giving in, fighting to the end, that English spirit running right the way through this Champions League for Chelsea.”
Tyler: “What a road, what a journey, what a finish.”
As Martin Tyler rightly said, Didier Drogba is immortal at Chelsea, and forever will be. Though he may not play for Chelsea again, his presence will be instilled in the hearts of Chelsea fans throughout. Be it for his hat trick against Wigan on the final day to claim the 2010 English Premier League title, his performances in cup finals, or simply for his heroics in the 2012 Champions League final. Although he scored only 13 goals in 25 starts last season, he has not lost the knack of stepping up when it matters the most.
Didier Drogba – Unforgettable, Unstoppable and quite possibly irreplaceable! Saying that Chelsea will miss their talisman striker is an understatement really. The Ivorian’s presence in big matches and finals were enough to give an added ray of belief to the Chelsea fans.
Drogba, however had a difficult start to his career. He had never attended a football academy and only started daily football training after turning an adult. It took him around four years to be capable of training every day and playing matches every week. He signed his first professional contract with Ligue 2 Club Le Mans in 1999. He scored 15 goals in 71 appearances for the club, before setting off to Guingamp midway during the 2001-02 season. Guingamp avoided relegation and stayed in the top flight the following season. He netted 17 times in 34 appearances. At the end of the season, he joined Marseille for £3.3 million. This was the season where he made the world take notice. He scored a whopping 32 goals in 55 matches.
Though he played at Marseille only for a season, he is considered as a club legend there, and is regarded very highly. His shirt from his only season at Marseille is framed in the basilica of Marseille,which he presented to the church before the 2004 UEFA Cup Final.
He then joined Chelsea in 2004, and coming to a team consisting of an array of star-studded players, people wondered whether he would find himself in the starting line up. The Premier League seemed to be the perfect league for him (or was it the other way round?), as the style of play in England fitted like a glove on his qualities. In his first season with the club, he was sidelined for more than two months due to a pulled stomach muscle, yet scored 16 goals in all competitions and helped Chelsea win their first Premier League title in 50 years. The Londoners also won the League Cup in the same season. Chelsea showed a similar performance in the following season. They retained their Premier League trophy, and Drogba again finished with 16 goals in all competitions.
It was the next season, his third season at Chelsea, when he enthralled the footballing world with his charismatic performances. He scored 33 goals in all competitions and 20 goals in the Premier League, and thus deservedly won the Golden Boot. However, his best came in the 2009-10 season. He scored 29 goals in the Premier League and 37 goals overall. Chelsea won the Premier League for the third time in six years, and also won the FA Cup. They also became the only English team to score more than 100 league goals in a season since 1963 and as a Chelsea fan since the Mourinho days, I have to admit that this was one of our best seasons. We never really lost shape, and we were dominant in almost every area.
Drogba’s intelligent and innovative vision, his accurate finishing, and his beast-like strength combined with the coordination between him and his teammates, make him one of the world’s best target men and this was on display in Chelsea’s 2011-12 Champions League campaign, which finished on a high as they became the first London club to win the Champions League. It was the Holy Grail which Roman Abramovich had set his sights on since taking over the club from Ken Bates in 2003.
Chelsea, as well as Drogba, had a magical Champions League campaign, to say the least. No one expected Chelsea to win the CL, but they DID. They didn’t have the finest of teams, but they had the desire, dedication and belief in themselves. Maybe luck was on their side a bit, but mere luck cannot win you the Champions League, can it?
Just a few days after winning the Champions League, Drogba announced that his time at Chelsea was over and he was heading off to China. This decision was a tough one, and a very emotional one for the fans.
Jose Mourinho has labelled him as the best Chelsea player of all time, and the fans also voted him as Chelsea’s greatest player of all time in a poll taken by 20,000 Blues’ supporters. Well, he undoubtedly is one of the best, but is he better than the likes of Lampard, Peter Osgood, Jimmy Greaves, Gianfranco Zola, Ron Harris, Kerry Dixon, and Marcel Desailly?
By leaving Chelsea, he has left behind a legacy, a gap which can never be filled. The Drog’s outright pace, prowess in the air and his clinical eye in front of goal has made him what he is today. His co-ordination with the team mates, in particular with Lampard, and his ‘beast-like’ strength has helped make him one of the most feared strikers in the world. He may not be a Van Persie, he might not score many goals, but the few he scores will remain in the memories forever. Oh, the days when he used to terrorize European defenses the days when he made back-lines look like puppets; those days will be remembered forever and ever.
Here’s a season-by-season review for one of the Premier League’s finest imports:
Appearances: 41 Goals: 16
Trophies won: Premier League, Carling Cup
Appearances: 41 Goals: 16
Trophies won: Premier League
Appearances: 60 Goals: 33
Trophies won: FA Cup, Carling Cup
Appearances: 32 Goals 15
Trophies won: None
Appearances: 42 Goals 14
Trophies won: FA Cup
Appearances: 44 Goals 37
Trophies won: Premier League, FA Cup
Appearances: 46 Goals 13
Trophies won: None
Appearances: 35 Goals 13
Trophies won: Champions League, FA Cup
DROGBA BY NUMBERS
34 – Amount of goals Drogba has scored in Europe for Chelsea, no one has more.
157 – Total amount of Chelsea goals, making him fourth highest in the all-time list.
8 – Number of Wembley goals. Drogba is also the only player to score in four FA Cup finals.
100 – Amount of Premier League goals scored making him only the 21st player to hit treble figures
342 – Chelsea appearances in all competitions
10 – Trophies brought home to Stamford Bridge (Three league titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, and one Champions League)