When Chelsea beat Bayern Munich to win Champions League final, the Blues’ fans were obviously in seventh heaven and buoyant. Without getting into the specific details of that game, there is one particular moment that stood out and it didn't occur during the 120 minutes, nor during the penalty shoot-out. It was when Chelsea were celebrating their victory, Didier Drogba had a moment alone with the Chelsea fans to whom he bowed and waved farewell. That image summed up what we were witnessing: another footballing icon leaving European shores.
Didier Drogba has recently announced that he will be leaving Chelsea following 8 years at the club and is most likely to join Nicolas Anelka for one final big payday in China (money which, for those don’t know, will help fund the hospitals he’s building in Ivory Coast). You can’t blame the 34-year old for leaving the club at this moment in time because he has simply won every major trophy he could possibly imagine lifting at the club. Leaving on a high is a privilege that not many players ever have the chance to achieve - but Drogba could and he has. For the rest of his days, his final contribution to the Chelsea cause will always be remembered as scoring the equalizing goal in their first ever Champions League victory and scoring the winning penalty kick. He probably couldn’t have even written such a script for himself.
He’s been a symbolic figure of Abramovich’s Chelsea ever since the Russian took over the club and he’s also become an emblematic figure for the Premier League in a similar way to Thierry Henry was a few years ago. There’s no need to compare records or anything as such between Drobga and other strikers, because this isn’t about who’s the better player, but simply about the loss of a colorful character that the Premier League was blessed to have.
You don’t need to be a Chelsea fan to acknowledge his presence or impact. He had his flaws which were always obvious such as his diving antics, groaning, feigning injury and moaning to the referees. It made many of us hate him. Even some Chelsea fans hated that aspect about him as it became a bit too farcical at times (he did give Busquets a run for his money in the semi-final though). But he also had another side to him which made him an absolute monster of a player; a bulldozer of a striker who was a key part of Chelsea’s most successful period in their history. Volleys, headers, tap-ins... he scored all types of goals, but with an absolute brutal force. He even made tap-ins look like powerful goals at times. That’s the type of player he is. His cheer physical presence was intimidating for many.
I do strongly believe that Drogba is the sort of player not many people will ever appreciate unless they've seen him live (that’s if you’re not a Chelsea fan), which I’ve been fortunate to do a few times. Every single occasion, even when facing the team I support, and I know I'm not the only one to admit this; Drogba was always by far the most dangerous player in Chelsea’s line-up. Every single time. Powerful, robust, annoying, athletic, creative and just a simple bloody beast - Chelsea face a difficult task in replacing him next season.
We often forget how much of a big game player he’s been for Chelsea down the years, scoring in pretty much every big game (9 goals in 9 finals or something like that) when Chelsea have needed him the most. For Chelsea fans, especially of this era, Drogba will be missed. For the rest of the Premier League fans, I think we should all appreciate that the league will be a little less colorful without him in it.
As a new wave and generation of footballers are coming to the limelight, I’ll just say (like I did on a recent post): Farewell Didier!