Legends of International Football: Didier Drogba

Author : Farooq Jamal

Chelsea FC v Valencia CF - UEFA Champions League

No. 15….!!! 8 years with Chelsea! This Ivory Coast forward showed us why he’s the best and why he deserves to be called a LEGEND.

Yes, we are talking about none other than Didier Drogba. His pace, his skills, his dedication towards his game is something to be admired.

Drogba started his career by joining Le Mans (Ligue 2 side) as he had to change his clubs because he was studying accountancy at that time after completing his studies. He struggled hard there to get playing chances as he was injured for the first four years at the club. He later thought of getting his chances as soon as possible as he had to become a professional footballer. After much struggle, he finally got a chance to sign his first professional contract in 1999. He started impressing everyone with his goals as he scored seven goals in thirty games in his first season, making a good start for him. But later, in the next season, he again spent his time on the benches and finally lost his place to Daniel Cousin due to injury. But he came back in form the following season, making 21 appearances and scoring five times.

Drogba later joined Guingamp in the first half of season 2001-02 for a fee of  £80,000. He helped his club to avoid relegation by his goals but was a matter of concern for his staff as they were unconvinced by their young striker. But the following season, he proved his best and scored 17 goals in 34 appearances and helped his club finish seventh, a record finish in their history. Drogba thanked his teammates for his achievement, particularly Florent Malouda, who joined him in Chelsea too. Drogba’s performances attracted the attention of some bigger clubs and at the end of the season, he moved to Ligue 1 side Marseille for a fee of £3.3 million.

Drogba scored 19 goals in his season with Marseille. Not only this, he also scored 5 goals in the UEFA Champions League and 6 goals in the UEFA Cup. He was soon replaced by Alain Perrin as Chelsea signed him the next season only for then record fee of £24 million. It’s a fact that Drogba is a legend of Marseille, despite playing only one season with Ligue 1 outfit.

In Chelsea, Drogba was recognised by everyone. In his first season with the club, he scored two goals in Community Shield against Arsenal, which the Blues won. It was in this season only, that Chelsea won the EPL title, and also Community Shield, and they were the second club to win 2 back-to-back English titles. Drogba finished scoring 16 goals that season- 12 in the League, 2 in Community Shield and 1-1 each in Champions League and FA Cup.

The next season, as Damien Duff went to Newcastle United, Drogba was handed no. 11 shirt from no. 15 (which he had worn since November 2004). Drogba was the successful player this season as he scored 33 goals in all competitions, of which, 20 goals were in Premier League only, which helped him winning the Golden Boot. He was the second Chelsea player to reach 30 goals, after Kerry Dixon did the same in 1984-85 season.Other goals included 6 in Champions League, 3 in FA Cup and 4 in the League Cup.

Drogba was hailed as legend by then. He scored many spectacular goals, and was the favourite of all football fans.

In January 2007, Drogba was the Ivorian Player of the Year ahead of Kolo Toure, Kader Keita and Aruna Dindane. In March, he was named African Player of the Year ahead of Samuel Eto’o and Michael Essien. It was because of his performances only that he also named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year, and was runner up to Cristiano Ronaldo in PFA Player of the Year award.

He also shone in Champions League matches. Who will forget Chelsea and Barcelona’s clash (semi final first leg) in which he scored the crucial goal in 1-0 win. Later, in the final on 19 May, 2012, against Bayern Munich, he scored an equaliser in the 88th minute from Juan Mata’s corner, which led to extra time and finally to penalty shootout. He scored the winning penalty in the 4-3 penalty shootout, which led to victory over Bayern Munich in their own home, under the management of Roberto Di Matteo.

Drogba then moved to Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua on 22 May, 2012, also joining his former teammate Nicolas Anelka. He made his debut in a 1-1 away draw against Guangzhou R&F. On August 4, he scored his debut goal, adding one more goal, against Hangzhou Greentown in a 5-1 win.

On 28 January, 2013, Drogba signed a 1 and a half year deal with Turkish giants Galatasaray.

He got a chance to score his first goal on 15 February in a 2-1 win against Akhisar Belediyespor, just five minutes after coming off the bench. He then started scoring many goals for the club, mainly scoring many important goals. On 9th April, he scored his first Champions League goal for Galatasaray against Real Madrid.

He won his first title with Galatasaray on 5th May, after Galatasaray defeated Sivasspor 4-2.

Didier Drogba is a class of his own. He can create chances, score goals in difficult situations too. His skills and moves are something we can’t miss.