The 40 year old Chelsea legend and Ivory Coast icon has retired from professional football. Didier Drogba has concluded his final season in the sport with USL side Phoenix Rising, guiding them to the USL Cup final. The former Chelsea man remains one of the most iconic Africans to grace the game and certainly one of the best to play in the Premier League. He has had a glittering career full of team and individual accolades. To tribute the 40 year old legend, we will look back at his greatest moments.
Starting his youth career at French side Le Mans, the 21 year old Drogba played 3 seasons with the Ligue 2 club before sealing a $100,000 move to fellow French team Guingamp. His first full season with the club was considered to be his big breakout, scoring 17 goals in Guingamp’s record 7th place finish. After just one year, Drogba’s strong performances led to big European interest, leading to a $4.2 million move to French side Marseille.
At Marseille, Drogba began to flourish for a top European side, scoring 30 goals in all competitions, earning the National Union of Professional Footballers Player of the Year Award. His stay in France lasted for only one season before sealing a then club record move to Chelsea for $31 million.
It was at Chelsea where Drogba became the footballing legend that people around the world adore. In his 8 year stint with the club, Drogba’s best league campaign came from the 2009-10 season which saw the Ivorian score 29 goals in just 32 appearances. He helped the club to 3 Premier League titles and his most iconic moment comes from the 2012 Champions League final against German powerhouses Bayern Munich. 0-1 down in the 88th minute, Drogba latched onto the end of a Juan Mata corner and smashed a header just under the bar past Bayern’s goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. After 30 minutes of stalemate in extra time, Chelsea took Bayern to penalties, winning 4-3 off a winning spot kick from the Ivorian himself.
From that moment Drogba cemented his reputation as a big game player, marking his 9th goal in his 9th cup final with Chelsea. Later that year, he was voted as Chelsea’s greatest ever player by more than 20,000 voting fans. Drogba left in June of that year to become one of the first in a long line of players to join the riches of the Chinese Super League with Shanghai Shenhua. In a surprising move, Drogba sealed a move to Turkish champions Galatasaray the following year . Across 2 seasons he managed 15 goals in the league, winning the league title, the Turkish Cup and the Turkish Super Cup. He even endured a bittersweet homecoming at Stamford bridge when Galatasaray faced the Blues in the Champions League.
In a shocking move that pleased fans, Drogba returned to Chelsea for the 2014-15 season and often played second or third fiddle behind Diego Costa and Loic Remy. He managed only 8 starts but scored 4 goals and performed behind the scenes as a leader as Drogba claimed his 4th Premier League title with the club.
In 2015, Drogba waved goodbye to European football and set sail for the MLS with Montreal Impact. Amassing 21 goals across 2 seasons, Drogba claimed MLS All-Star team honors and scored against his former rivals Arsenal in the process.
Drogba’s international career gifted him 104 caps, spanning across 3 World Cups and amassing 63 goals in the process. Drogba contributed to the 2006 World Cup Qualification team that gave Ivory Coast their first World Cup campaign of all time. Drogba remains the African nation’s biggest sporting icon of all time and has worked wonders for the continent as a whole.
Didier Drogba is will always remain one of the greatest African footballers of all time and a Chelsea legend along with his teammates that gifted the club a truly golden period that has staked Chelsea’s name in the elite of England’s top competition.
4x Premier League
4x FA Cup
3x English League Cup
1x Super Lig
1x Turkish Cup
1x Turkish Super Cup
2x African Player of the Year