Let’s continue with our ‘Premier League Legends’ series and remember one of the greatest strikers in the history of English football, Chelsea’s iconic No. 11 – Didier Drogba.
Didier Drogba was born on 11 March 1978 in the economic capital of Ivory Coast and largest city in the country – Abidjan. The economic situation in the Ivory Coast at the time was in a very poor condition and thousands of Ivorians were looking for a better future in Europe, mostly in France.
In his youthful days, Didier grew up in a native village where harsh living conditions existed. At the age of five, he was sent to France by his parents to live with his uncle, Michel Goba who was a professional footballer at the time.
Drogba was nicknamed Tito by his mother after president Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, whom she admired greatly.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) March 16, 2019
He became homesick after three years in France and returned to the Ivory Coast. However, his return was short-lived, as both of his parents lost their jobs and Didier had to move back to France, while his family also joined him later.
Didier made his first steps in football at the age of 10 and made his professional debut 10 years later at Le Mans, in Ligue 2 – the second tier of French football.
His breakthrough season came in 2002-03 when he scored 17 goals in 34 games for Guingamp and made his debut for the Ivory Coast national team.
Drogba spent the next season at Olympique de Marseille, guiding the club to the UEFA Cup Final with his six goals in the knock out stage. Valencia stopped them in the final with a 2-0 victory, but Drogba’s excellent performances earned him his big move to Chelsea.
The Blues were still growing at the time and their new coach Jose Mourinho together with the Ivorian striker turned out to be the final piece of the jigsaw.
Chelsea won the League Cup and the Premier League with record-breaking 95 points, while Didier Drogba also did well, netting 16 times across all competitions.
Didier Drogba’s stats in Cup finals:
Cup Finals played: 11
Goals scored: 10
Trophies won : 10
— ¹⁰ (@ClinicaIEden) March 11, 2019
In his second season at Stamford Bridge, the striker scored the same amount of goals, helping Chelsea to retain the Premiership crown.
Drogba developed into one of the most intimidating strikers in Europe, during his time with the English giants. He was a prolific goalscorer, who had a top-level finishing ability. The Ivorian was noted for his enormous physical strength, dominance in the air and his ability to retain possession of the ball.
He won the Premier League Golden Boot award twice – in 2007 and 2010. The 2009-10 season was his best at an individual level. Drogba netted 37 goals in all competitions, helping the Blues to win their first ever (and still only) domestic double.
The striker also played a crucial role in Chelsea’s Champions League winning campaign in 2011-12. First, he scored an 88th-minute equalizer in the final against Bayern and then netted the deciding penalty to win the first European crown in the history of Chelsea FC.
🎈🎁 Drogba 🎁🎈
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) March 11, 2019
Drogba left the club later that summer but returned for the 2014-15 season, when he won his fourth and last title in the Premier League.
At the international level, Didier represented the Ivory Coast at three World Cup, making a total of 104 appearances. He is the all-time top scorer of the national team with 65 goals by his name.
The iconic striker retired from professional football in November 2018, at the age of 40 years old.