Didier Drogba, born on March 11, 1978, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, joined Chelsea in 2004 and quickly became a force to be reckoned with on the pitch. Standing tall at 6 feet 2 inches, Drogba possessed an imposing physical presence combined with incredible skill, agility, and determination, making him a formidable striker.
The day is it for Didier Drogba
On the way from the midfield line to the 11-meter mark of the Allianz Arena, Drogba tried to go slowly. He is about to take the most important shot of his life and is considering options.
Initially, Drogba intended to surprise Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer with a Panenka. But he immediately abandoned that idea, it was too risky. He planned to run shorter than usual so that Neuer wouldn’t have much time to analyze his moves.
When he picked up the ball and placed it on the 11-meter mark, Drogba did not have any idea that moment would nail his legacy at Chelsea. But he did not doubt himself in the slightest. Later, Drogba wrote in his autobiography: “At that time, I told myself something that I have been thinking about since I was a boy. <Hey Didier, you love this. Score, the team wins. If your kick’s broken, yes, the team loses, but you love this, you love this responsibility.> I love the feeling of being responsible for something huge. Even though sometimes I fail, though, the number of successes is much greater”.
“At the 11-meter mark, the goalkeeper was much more defeated. Moreover, I felt like fate had arranged for Chelsea to be crowned. What’s mine will be mine, no one can take it. On another day, Maybe I’ll be nervous. But that day, I was strangely calm. I was completely at peace.”
Then Drogba takes the shot. Ball fly in one direction, Neuer in the opposite direction. Drogba’s sense of peace and confidence brought Chelsea to their first Champions League title. It was an emotional burst after eight crazy years of chasing European glory, after so many failures, from admiration to resentment. That ONE championship also pinned Didier Drogba’s name forever in the history of Stamford Bridge, a fairy tale that many people thought it had to end in an ugly way.
Drogba and the turning point named Chelsea
If you want to be a great player you have to play for me
When Marseille sold Drogba to Chelsea for £24 million (about $30 million) in the summer of 2004, just weeks after signing a new contract, Drogba described himself as “cry and cry”. Drogba recalls: “It felt like someone had just stabbed me in the heart. I didn’t want to leave Marseille. I felt angry because I had to sign for Chelsea. It sounded strange, but I was very disappointed when I had to go to London.”.
Jose Mourinho’s presence at Stamford Bridge changed his mind. Mourinho had been eager to have Drogba in the squad for a year after Porto beat Marseille in the Champions League. Because he liked Drogba so much, Mourinho sent his close assistant Andre Villas-Boas to watch him closely. With shower of money from the new owner at Chelsea – Roman Abramovich- Mourinho achieved his goal.
Mourinho later told beIN Sport: “I clearly remember Abramovich asking me again: Who? Who did you say you were going to sign with? Among all the famous European names at the time, I said Drogba. Abramovich asked again: ‘ Who? Which club he plays for?’ And I said, ‘Sir Abramovich, just spend the money and stop talking’.”
Abramovich and Mourinho personally greeted Drogba when he landed at Farnborough Airport on the Russian billionaire’s private jet. Mourinho helped relieve Drogba’s stress by greeting him in French: “How are you, my friend?”
Then he told Drogba: “You are a good player. But if you want to be a great player you have to play for me. Marseille is a good club, but to play better you have to play for a big club. , like Chelsea, and have to play for me”.
The bittersweet start
Drogba’s integration process at Chelsea was very bumpy. He was not popular with many of his Chelsea teammates at first, mainly because his English was too weak He didn’t recognize John Terry either. Drogba recalls in his autobiography: “I noticed a tall, young guy and thought he was from the reserve team. I thought: interesting, they put young players in training together to train with him. At the end of the training session, I asked another player on the team who the other guy was. And he burst out laughing and replied: ‘It’s our captain!'”.
It’s more difficult on the field than on the training ground. Mourinho asked Drogba to change his instinctive play. In Marseille, Drogba often stood level with opposing defenders and then used his speed to escape to score goals. At Chelsea, he was the holding midfielder, often having to receive the ball with his back to goal and finding a way to get the ball to other attacking players. He has to confront more physically, against the strongest defenders in the world.
Drogba said: “Anywhere in Europe, when you go down after a foul, the referee immediately shows the defender. In England you have to get up and shake the defender’s hand. Now think. I thought it was funny, but it was a culture shock that took me a long time to get over.”
Using too much force, Drogba’s body was overloaded. He had to miss two months in the 2004-2005 season because of groin surgery. In his first two seasons, Drogba appeared in 55 of 76 Premier League matches. Both seasons, although Drogba was a striker, his goalscoring record was lost to Frank Lampard.
Chelsea excelled in the first two seasons with Mourinho, only Drogba was out of place. He is almost the least important link in the squad. Even the Chelsea fans don’t love him. Constantly being followed and kicked by defenders, Drogba began to protect himself by … falling, and that made him estranged from the fans. In the final match of the season against Man City in March 2006, Drogba fell to the ground after a collision with Richard Dunne and the crowd at Stamford Bridge immediately booed the home forward, even though he scored both goals in the victory that day. Chelsea’s 2-0.
It was a bittersweet experience. Drogba must admit that although Chelsea was very successful, he was not happy in England. That estrangement was in stark contrast to the godlike reverence that Drogba received in his home Republic of Côte d’Ivoire. In October 2005, Drogba and his teammates officially won tickets to the first World Cup in history. And on live TV, he sent out a petition that “people put down their guns and talk, let’s end the civil war that has sown grief in Ivory Coast for many years”. And after this appeal, Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and rebel leader Guillaume Soro finally agreed to dialogue. A few months after the 2006 World Cup, the parties signed a peace agreement, and the two men appeared in the stands, sang the national anthem and watched Ivory Coast beat Madagascar 5-0.
Back to the Chelsea
Meanwhile, Drogba’s future after the 2006 World Cup is still a question mark. And that’s where Frank Lampard comes in. Drogba recalls: “One day, right after the World Cup ended, I was on vacation with my family in Marrakech when I received a text from him. It was strange, because during two seasons at Chelsea, Lampard pictured like never texted me, I still remember the text that day: ‘DD, I hope you stay, because we won the Premier League together, so we will win the Champions League together’. I kept staring at my phone, at the text.”
That message, according to Drogba, “liberated and given him wings”. A text that gave him complete confidence in himself, a message that made him feel loved and appreciated, the things he’s been looking for since the day he moved to Chelsea. A message became the catalyst for Drogba to officially enter the most brilliant chapter of his career.
The Glory chapter
In the 2006-2007 season, Drogba scored 33 goals in all competitions, more than the first two seasons combined. Drogba’s excellence makes people forget the departure of Hernan Crespo and the disappointment that Andriy Shevchenko brought. That season, Man Utd won the championship, but Drogba showed his quality in big matches, when he scored the winning goal in the FA Cup final against the “Red Devils”.
Drogba said of that match: “During extra time, I had a cramp. I ran to the touchline and told the coach to substitute me, but I can’t run. The coach said: ‘No, Can’t run then don’t run, just stand there, stand still and when the ball come, you’ll score. Focus on, one ball and you’ll score’.”
And that’s how it happened. While the Chelsea players celebrated the Cup at Wembley, Drogba ran into the dressing room, snatched the phone while Mourinho was talking to his wife, forcing him to share the joy with everyone.
At this point, the bond between Drogba and Mourinho was very strong. So when Mourinho was sacked in September 2007, Drogba cried at Cobham. He went to Abramovich for an explanation and gave a very emotional interview on France Football shortly after.
Drogba said: “I have made a decision. Nothing can keep me at Chelsea anymore. Whether Ronaldinho or Kaka come here, I will not change my mind. The relationship between me and Chelsea is broken, even if it is. It’s always been an uncomfortable relationship. Ever since I came here, I’ve wanted to leave. Every summer that desire becomes more clear And yet I’ve been here for four seasons.”
After the article was published, Chelsea immediately released a statement, emphasizing that Drogba was still their player. In the internal meeting, Drogba still maintained: 2007-2008 will be his last season here. But Drogba showed a virtue even in the midst of tragic situation: he always devoted every day he remained. After scoring the opening goal in a 2-0 win at Middlesbrough, he ran to the Chelsea fans.
Didier Drogba under Avram Grant
Knee injuries and the Africa Cup kept Drogba from contributing much under Avram Grant, who replaced Mourinho. But he scored both goals in a 2-1 home win over Arsenal, scoring twice against Liverpool to send Chelsea to the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow. Here, Drogba’s emotions resurfaced and once again changed his career.
Before going into extra time, Drogba asked Grant to pair him with Nicolas Anelka. Grant refused. Drogba brought that frustration onto the field and received a red card in the 116th minute for slapping Nemanja Vidic in the face. Then Chelsea lost immediately to Man Utd in the penalty shootout. It should be added: before playing the final, Drogba received the news that his grandmother in Ivory Coast was dying. Abramovich allowed Drogba to use the plane to go home to say goodbye to her after the match was over.
But before boarding the plane, he told Abramovich’s eldest son, Arkadiy, in the dressing room: “I’ll be back, and one day I’ll get the Champions League back for you.”
The road from Moscow to Munich is still full of unexpected turns. And no other player has gone through that journey with such intense emotions as Drogba. At the end of the forgettable 2009 Champions League semi-final at Stamford Bridge, the image that remains in everyone’s mind is not Andres Iniesta’s volley, but Drogba’s eyes wide with rage, pointed directly at the referee’s face. Tom Henning Ovrebo and shouted: “Disgrace! Damn it!”.
Just a few months before, in January 2009, Drogba thought he had left Chelsea because coach Luiz Felipe Scolari announced that he no longer needed him. There is even talk of an exchange with Inter Milan for Adriano. But at the last minute, Abramovich didn’t let that happen. Premier League clubs will soon regret this. Because despite scoring less, Drogba has now become a monster for every defender in England. He is fast, strong and extremely intelligent. Ask Arsenal, especially poor Philippe Senderos. He has scored 13 goals in 15 times against Arsenal in all competitions.
It was not until he left Chelsea for Arsenal that William Gallas understood Senderos’ suffering. He said: “Training with Drogba at Chelsea, I couldn’t understand why Senderos almost disappeared every time I played Didier. But when I played it on the pitch, I understood. He radiates power. and a fear that I never felt as a team-mate. Or maybe Drogba has gotten better and better, so facing him the defenders are scared.”
The Gold boots in 2009
Drogba’s power reached its peak in the 2009-2010 season when Chelsea won a double. He scored 29 goals in 32 Premier League matches, winning the title of top scorer, despite taking a break for most of January, because of the Africa Cup.
How people descript Didier Drogba
Robert Huth: Drogba the best striker in the Premier League I’ve ever played against
Robert Huth played along Drogba from 2004-2006, but his fondest memory about DD is when he accompanied Stoke City to Stamford Bridge for the FA Cup quarter-final in March 2010. Huth said: “I had to face him directly. After the first two minutes I was on the ground. He loves the pressure, the stronger the defender, the more he enjoys. We have four. defender, Didier beat all four. Normally we just squeeze the strikers. We were bullied back that day and spent 90 minutes of hell. The ball hits you. You’ll die anyway. He’s the best striker in the Premier League I’ve ever played against.”
Jamie Carragher – Drogba rival: Don’t poke the bear
Drogba’s rival in England is Jamie Carragher, an extremely fiery central defender. After 26 direct encounters on the pitch, Carragher wrote down his experience in the Telegraph after retiring: “Ultimate rule: don’t anger Didier. He’s like Hulk, the angrier the stronger, the angrier the better. Looking back, I see that Drogba changed the concept of a striker. Many times he did the job of two players at the same time and the coaches were able to change the game based on him.”
Ferdinand: Drogba tortures you the whole game
In fact, Drogba considers Rio Ferdinand and Vidic to be the two most formidable opponents he has ever faced. On the contrary, Vidic also respects Drogba very much. In an interview with FourFourTwo magazine in 2016, when asked whether Fernando Torres or Drogba is the most feared opponent, Vidic did not hesitate to answer immediately: “Drogba is much more difficult to play. Torres always waits for an opportunity to score, but Drogba tortures you the whole game.”
Winning the Champions League
One of the reasons Chelsea had to sign Torres in January 2011 for a then-record £50m – was because Drogba was old and couldn’t carry the Chelsea attack all season. A few months earlier, Drogba had also contracted malaria. But while not at his peak, Drogba has become one of the biggest voices in the dressing room. When Roberto di Matteo was appointed to replace Andre Villas-Boas in March 2012, Drogba said: “I should have left in January. But why am I still here? Because I believe we will have chances of winning the Champions League. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ll do whatever it takes to prove me right.”
And then he sent a message in the locker room: “I’ve been here for eight years. There were times when I had to reserve, but I didn’t complain. So if anyone complains because you ARE sub or have to be a substitute. If he doesn’t play properly, he’ll have to face me. If he’s not happy, go to the coach. But between the players, everyone has to have fun, play their best and try to win the Champions League.”
The authority of the African King Drogba now covered Cobham. And that prestige is increasingly reinforced when he constantly speaks out at the most important moments. A header like a bang opened the way for Chelsea’s comeback against Napoli in the 1/8 Champions League round. Then within three days of April, he scored the opening goal against Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-final, scoring the winning goal at home to Barca, all from the left foot.
Let’s talk about the familiar style goal against Tottenham. Receiving a long pass from Frank Lampard, Drogba stopped the ball with his chest, sending the ball to the side. Gallas used all his strength to press down, still unable to get close to the ball. Drogba charged forward with unstoppable force before sending an unstoppable shot. The combination between Lampard and Drogba has become a specialty, having led Chelsea through countless rapids. They have combined in 36 goals in the Premier League, which is the best attacking pair in the history of this tournament.
Drogba said of Lampard: “After training, we stayed for another 5, 10 or even 20 minutes, trying to pass the ball, so that we could feel each other’s passes. Frank kept practicing and practicing, Me too, and we’ve pulled together to become better players.”
“Like me, Frank also has to work hard to reach the highest level. Our success does not come easy, we both know talent is never enough, only dedication is the way to success. I think this is why I’ve always had such admiration for Frank, and the honor to have created a pair of great players with him at Chelsea.”
They combined again to create Drogba’s scoring goal in the 2012 FA Cup final against Liverpool. It was Drogba’s eighth goal in finals for Chelsea. The ninth goal came in injury time in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich half a month later. And it is also the most famous goal of his career.
At that time, Chelsea were leading 0-1 and the match had only a few short minutes left. A corner, everyone’s focus, but Drogba can still hit a header into the near corner. Manuel Neuer – the best goalkeeper in the world at that time – got his hand on the ball but still couldn’t stop the goal.
“When I ran towards the piste to celebrate the goal, I was in a dream. Because before that, I talked to God continuously: ‘If you are real, prove it, show me’ And then I scored, I can only thank and thank you so much.”
That faith of Drogba was tested. But when he stepped up to the 11-yard mark to kick the decisive penalty, he knew he wouldn’t miss it. And then he shot, the ball on one side Neuer on the other. He was delighted with tears in his eyes. Then he held the big cup and said to it: “Why did you hide from us for so long? Why do you punish us so much. All these years you have teased us, seduced us. then run away”.
Drogba’s legend was written
When he left Chelsea in 2012, Drogba’s legend was written, with a tragic final chapter. That summer’s referendum resulted: Drogba was the greatest player in the club’s history. When Mourinho returned to Chelsea two years later, he begged Drogba to return, not to score goals, but to coach his juniors, so that they would understand the value of the club.
Drogba still returns to Stamford Bridge from time to time, to see a stand named after him, to remember his time playing as if he could die on the pitch. He has no intention of becoming a coach, he likes to do charity, likes a bigger picture, wants to help his homeland Ivory Coast football develop. “A manager can only help one club, but I want to help my country,” said Drogba.
When Tammy Abraham scored against Arsenal, he spread his arms in celebration like the striker’s idol as a child. It was then that Chelsea fans witnessed Drogba’s legacy, still alive despite his long distance from Stamford Bridge.
Maybe Chelsea will one day sculpt a statue of Drogba and put it in front of Stamford Bridge. That image of outstretched arms will be chosen, or maybe two arms close to his body, when he stands in front of the 11-meter dot in Munich. Whether running or standing still, it is still the “Tito” at the top, always believing that after so many waves and waves, the victory will come back, erase many painful tears, because history will forever be remembered. inscribed the names of the brave warriors.