Didier Drogba has carried on his scintillating form from last season with outstanding performances in Chelsea’s first two fixtures of this season’s Premier League, scoring a hat-trick against West Brom and setting up three of Chelsea’s goals in Saturday’s 6-0 demolition of Wigan. In his time in the Premier League, Drogba has gained a reputation as one of the world’s most fearsome strikers but where does he rate in the annals of Chelsea legends? In my opinion, Drogba deserves to be considered as one of the finest players to ever play for the club.
He has been an integral cog in Chelsea’s recent success and his goals have helped propel Chelsea into the upper echelons of world football. Since joining Chelsea from Marseille in 2004, Drogba has scored 134 goals for the club in 263 appearances. He has performed consistently for Chelsea in his 6 years at the club, scoring more than 10 goals a season in every single campaign so far but last season proved to be his most successful to date. Drogba was at his imperious best last season, scoring an incredible 37 goals in 44 appearances on his way to the Golden Boot and a league and FA Cup double for the first time in Chelsea’s history.
Drogba has come to be known for his pace and power but his recent performances have put pay to such singular definitions of his qualities. His performance against Wigan on the weekend is testament to that. He showed his trademark drive for Chelsea’s fourth goal where he picked the ball up and strode past the Wigan backline. But he showed an unselfishness not usually associated with his game as he slid in Salomon Kalou to score. It is this ability to continually surprise people and go beyond the typical stereotypes of his game that make Drogba a truly special player.
Drogba’s reputation as a player threatened to be overshadowed by accusations of cheating. The Ivorian made a habit of going down at the slightest hint of any contact and feigning injury on numerous occasions. His off the field antics have also caused much controversy. He brought much negative publicity to the club when a flip-flop wearing Drogba shouted “it’s a f***ing disgrace!” down a TV camera in the aftermath of Chelsea’s controversial Champions League semi-final defeat to Barcelona.
Despite these concerns, Drogba has found a place in the hearts and minds of many Chelsea supporters. He has cut out many of the unsavoury aspects of his game and has indicated a desire to get even better now that he has had surgery to correct an ongoing groin problem:
“I am better at 32 than I was six years ago, when I came here.”
“I am scoring more goals, I am more calm, more relaxed on the pitch and it helps a lot.
“If I keep playing in a team like this I can plan maybe five more years. I was only 25 when I started at the highest level, so I feel young. I still love the pitch, running. I don’t count the runs I make. Maybe in a year or two it will be different.”
We can only really judge Drogba’s Chelsea career once it is all over. But what makes Drogba such an important player for Chelsea is that he comes to represent a particular era in Chelsea Football Club. He represents an unprecedented period of success for the club that would have otherwise been improbable if it wasn’t for Drogba’s goalscoring exploits. It is for this reason that Drogba should take his place among the Chelsea greats for ensuring that success is an expectation rather than a hope for the Stamford Bridge faithful.