Didier Drogba was a leading light in the most successful Chelsea squad ever assembled. He terrorised defences in the Premier League and Europe.
He was renowned as a big game player and helped Chelsea win 12 trophies during his eight years at the club including three league titles and the Champions League. More often than not it was Drogba who scored a vital goal that drove the team on to glory.
He is a two-time African Player of the Year and the Ivory Coast’s all time top goal scorer.
Growing up in Ivory Coast and France
Drogba spent his childhood in both the Ivory Coast and France. He had spent three years living in France with his uncle but got homesick and returned home. However, he returned to France when his parents lost their jobs.
He played football whenever and wherever he could and it was handy living with his uncle because he too was a professional footballer. It wasn’t until Drogba was 15 that he started to regularly play organised team football.
Starting his career as a semi pro
He became a semi pro with Parisian club, Levallois SC. He scored several goals for their youth team and impressed the coaches with his professional attitude. He even scored for the first team but ultimately he didn’t stay at the club. However, since then, Levallois have upgraded their stadium and renamed it the Stade Didier Drogba.
When he was 18 he left Levallois to go to university and study accounting. He joined Ligue 2 club, Le Mans which was close to where he was studying. He spent five years at Le Mans although his opportunities were limited as he suffered a lot of injury problems. However, during his time at the club he managed to score 12 goals in 64 games.
Playing in the French top flight
He moved up a division when he signed for Guingamp in the middle of the 2001-02 season. Guingamp were fighting relegation but Drogba scored 3 goals in 11 games to help them retain their top flight status.
The following season he established himself as one of the hottest young strikers in France. He scored 17 goals in 34 games and helped the club finish a respectable seventh place in the table. He also made his debut for the Ivory Coast.
The following year, 23-year-old Drogba joined Olympique de Marseille, one of the biggest clubs in France. He only spent one season with Marseille but he made a huge impact. He scored 21 goals in domestic competitions and 11 in Europe. He was named Player of the Year in France.
Making an impression in Europe
In Europe, he scored 5 goals in the Champions League including one against Jose Mourinho’s FC Porto. Marseille didn’t make it past the group stage of the Champions League but Drogba went on to score vital goals against Liverpool, Inter Milan and Newcastle to help them reach the final of the UEFA Cup.
Marseille lost in the final to Valencia but Drogba had already caught the eye of the hottest young coach in Europe. Drogba signs for Chelsea – Read more