May 25, 2012

Adieu Drogba: The One worth his weight in Ivory!

£24 million. It was a record transfer fee in England back in 2004. Chelsea had just bought Didier Drogba, a 26-year old, who had signed his first professional contract at the age of 21. £24 million for a striker who had just completed a single season in Marsielle, scoring 32 goals? The then manager of Chelsea, Jose Mourinho was questioned. He had a straight forward reply,
Judge him when he leaves the club.

Eight years on, it is time to answer that question. Was £24 million too much or too little?

Maiden Strike against Crystal City
Drogba made his Chelsea debut in August 2004 against Manchester United. His impact was instant, working with Eidur Gudjohnsen for the lone strike of the game which ended 1-0. His first goal came just a few days later against Crystal Palace, and at such a perfect time; just as the Crystal City fans had started to shout- what a waste of money.

Drogba leaves Chelsea having scored 157 goals in 341 appearances, the fourth all-time highest scorer. However, his big game pedigree is seen in his nine strikes in nine cup finals for the club. With three Premier Leagues, four FA Cups, two Carling Cups and finally, the all important Champions League in his resume, which Club would not want him, even at this age of 34?

The sending off in Moscow
The time he probably sealed his place in the team was when he scored against Liverpool to win the Carling Cup. Having scored in numerous finals since then, he has become a club legend at Chelsea, maybe surpassing even Gianfranco Zola and Peter Osgood.

Maybe the lowest point in his career was the sending off in the 2008 Champions League Final against Manchester United for a silly slap on Vidic. However, considering greats like Zidane have done things which are even more silly, there was change it could be forgiven and forgotten, especially with time on his side. And forgotten it was, as he has since proved how much he has matured since that night in Moscow. But it definitely took time.

Just next year, following the exit to Barcelona, Drogba was sent off yet again for arguing with the referee, who had visibly favoured Barcelona in not one or two, but five penalty calls in the last ten minutes of the return leg at Stamford Bridge.

Most beautiful goal I have ever seen
The best highlight of his Premier League's century of goals for Chelsea must have been the goal against Liverpool in 2006. An inch perfect lofted pass was chested down by Drogba(above), being tightly marked by Carragher. He swiveled to create some space before banging it into the goal. Pepe Reina was just a spectator. Couldn't even more an inch. The game ended 1-0 in favour of Chelsea.

Against United 5 minutes from time
Among his FA Cup goals, the most memorable must be the one against United in the 2007 FA Cup final, where he scored past van der Sar just five minutes from the end of extra time. Mourinho went on to comment that Chelsea could've contained United in that match for 200 minutes if necessary.

He may be criticized for going to the ground too soon, but who doesn't do that? I wonder why people fail to see the 'performances' of Sergio Busquests and Dani Alves. I always think of what Drogba did as being smart work, something which frustrated the opponent so much, also running down the clock in the process.

The 'Why always me' celebration
Drogba is also known for his celebrations. There was also this hat trick against Wigan on match day 38 in the 2009-2010 season, which saw Drogba and Malouda celebrating in the weirdest way possible; Drogba treating the corner flag as a guitar and Malouda playing imaginary drums. Have a look here.

"That is what won the trophy" ;)
His last goal for Chelsea was in the Champions League final, still fresh in the memory of Chelsea fans worldwide. The most powerful header I have ever seen. Neuer got to it, but could only help it into his own net. Such was the power. The importance of the goal was that had it been a few more minutes, Chelsea would've lost the Cup to FC Hollywood. His last kick of the ball saw Chelsea win the highest honour possible in club football: The European Cup.

He says,
As a team we have accomplished so much and have won every single trophy possible. Saturday was a very special moment for everyone at the club and for all the fans, and I am very proud to have played my part in bringing many trophies to this club, which has been my home for the last eight years.
I agree this is the right time for him to leave Chelsea. Leaving on a high. Something every player must dream of. The Drog leaves the club a hero. A warrior. A legend.

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