This week’s Premier League hero is Chelsea legend Didier Drogba. Sarah Fitzpatrick looks back at the illustrious career of the Ivory Coast striker.
Tebily Didier Yves Drogba or better known as Didier Drogba became a Chelsea legend during his first spell at the club between 2004-2012. During his time at Stamford Bridge, Drogba became Chelsea’s fourth highest goal scorer ever and the highest foreign goal scorer in the club’s history.
In October 2012, Chelsea supporters voted Drogba as the greatest ever Chelsea player because of his ability to always score for the club in the big games, which resulted in him winning three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups and a Champions League during his time in London. The striker also managed to win two Premier League Golden Boots (2007 & 2010) and managed to rack up 101 league goals in his 230 Premier League appearances.
Drogba was born on the 11th of March 1978 in Abidjan in the Ivory Coast but began his football career in France at then Ligue 2 side Le Mans. Drogba suffered many injuries and setbacks in the beginning of his football career but improved enough to sign his first professional contract in 1999.
This led to a move to Ligue 1 side Guingamp where he managed to impress enough to be snapped up by Marseille for £3.3million in 2003. The Ivorian striker managed to score 19 goals for Marseille in all competitions which attracted attention from clubs all over Europe and a massive £24million bid from Chelsea was enough to bring Drogba to Stamford Bridge.
Drogba didn’t take too long to settle in at Chelsea, scoring in his third appearance for the club in a fixture against Crystal Palace. It also didn’t take the striker long to make himself a Chelsea hero as he scored in extra time in a 3-2 win over Liverpool in the League Cup final.
Chelsea and Drogba also managed to lift the Premier League trophy, which was only helped by Drogba’s ten league goals in his debut Premier League season. Drogba began the 2005/06 season on the right foot by netting twice in Chelsea’s Community Shield win over Arsenal.
He also managed to improve his league goal tally by scoring 12 league goals in a season where Chelsea became only the second club to win consecutive Premier League titles. Drogba changed from the number 15 to 11 for the 2006/07 season but even though Chelsea didn’t win the league they still had an impressive season.
Drogba scored twice in the League Cup final against Arsenal and then scored again in the FA Cup final against Manchester United. The Ivorian striker scored 33 goals in all competitions, which meant he was the first Chelsea player to score over 30 goals in a season since Kerry Dixon in 1984/85.
The 2007/08 season wasn’t as enjoyable for Drogba and Chelsea as Jose Mourinho left the club which unsettled many of the players. Drogba claimed he was devastated after Mourinho’s departure as he stated,
“Mourinho’s departure destroys a certain familiarity we had at the club.”
There was plenty of speculation about Drogba’s future and the media kept on claiming that Drogba was demanding a transfer away from Stamford Bridge but he ended up committing his future to Chelsea. Not only was the striker unsettled, but he also suffered a knee injury which resulted in Drogba making only 19 league appearances and scoring eight times in the 2007/08 Premier League season.
The 2008/09 season didn’t start off brilliantly for Drogba as injuries kept him out from August to November and he was then handed a three match ban for throwing a coin at a section of Burnley fans during a League Cup defeat. This led to Drogba losing his starting place in the Chelsea team to Nicolas Anelka and he finished the season with only five league goals.
It wasn’t all bad for Drogba though as he scored in Chelsea’s 2-1 win in the FA Cup final against Everton. The 2009/10 season was much better for Chelsea and Drogba as they lifted yet another Premier League trophy while Drogba managed to score an outstanding 29 league goals in 32 appearances.
Drogba put his name in the Chelsea history books as he scored his 100th goal for Chelsea in all competitions against Wigan and then scored a free-kick in the FA Cup final against Portsmouth.
Drogba began the 2010/11 season right where he left off from the previous season as he proved to continue his impressive goal scoring form but unfortunately he ended up on the side lines in November when he was suffering with Malaria. It was a trophyless season for Chelsea and Drogba but he still managed to hit double figures in the league as he scored 11 times in his 36 league appearances.
Drogba wrote his name into the history books again in the 2011/12 season as he netted his 100th Premier League goal when he scored against Wigan in March 2012 and this meant he was the first African player to reach the prestigious landmark.
The Ivorian striker made himself an FA Cup hero when he scored the winner against Liverpool in a 2-1 win at Wembley, which meant he was the first ever player to score in four FA Cup finals. Drogba then won the hearts of Chelsea fans forever when he netted an 88th minute equaliser against Bayern Munich in the 2012 Champions League final, which sent the game into extra time.
A winner couldn’t be found in extra time with Drogba netting the winning spot kick in a penalty shoot-out that ended 4-3 in Chelsea’s favour. This meant that Chelsea had won their first ever Champions League title and former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson claimed it was all thanks to Drogba as he claimed,
“As far as I’m concerned Drogba won the Champions League for Chelsea.”
On the 22nd of May, Chelsea announced that Drogba would be leaving the club and he signed for Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua on the 19th of June 2012. Drogba’s stint in China didn’t last long though as he ended up back in Europe when he signed for Turkish side Galatasaray on the 28th of January 2013.
Drogba proved he still had a great eye for goal during his stint in Turkey and this resulted in him returning to Chelsea on the 25th of July 2014 on a free transfer. So far in the 2014/15 season, Drogba has made eight appearances and also managed to net his 350th appearance for Chelsea in all competitions when he scored against Manchester United in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.
Sarah Fitzpatrick, Pundit Arena