When Didier Drogba was carried off the Stamford Bridge turf by his team-mates at the end of last season, it was clear to all just how valued the now 37-year-old was at Stamford Bridge.
In his second spell with the club he returned to help the Londoners to another Premier League title before heading off to pastures new in Montreal, which was reminiscent of his last last act for the club, firing them to the Champions League before heading to Shanghai in 2012.
Chelsea have had a sometimes uneasy relationship with Europe’s biggest club competition, but their successes have, on the most part, coincided with the efforts of Drogba. With this in mind, here are the Ivory Coat international’s best goals for the club in Champions League action…
Drogba, in his Marseille days, swept home a devastating 23-minute hat-trick against Partizan in 2003, building on his reputation as one of the most dangerous emerging forwards in European football. Although all three were neat goals, his headed second was a peach.
Drogba’s second ever Champions League hat-trick was sealed with a neat, swivelling back-heeled effort against the Bulgarians. Poor opposition, but a great all-round display.
Drogba didn’t just score in Champions League action for Marseille and Chelsea, he also had a brief stint with Galatasaray. The Turkish giants drew 2-2 at Juventus, with Drogba’s industrious approach bringing the opener.
Drogba’s last ever Champions League effort – barring a dramatic late-career return from Montreal Impact – wasn’t a classic, but it was a great sight to behold. Some neat link-up play left the Ivorian with an empty net, which he duly found against Schalke.
No a typical barrel chested effort from Drogba against Juventus, but a great goal nonetheless. The African ace swivelled neatly in the box to latch onto a Salomon Kalou ball before sending a bouncing finish past Gigi Buffon. The goal gave the Blues a vital lead heading into the second leg against the Serie A giants.
Upon his first return to France following his big money move to Chelsea, Drogba netted twice against PSG to somewhat silence critics from across the Channel. Both goals were well taken, but the second, a well struck free-kick, was the pick.
Own goal or Drogba? You decide, but this effort against Liverpool was instrumental in a much-needed win over the Reds back in 2008. For many years the Blues had been second best to their Merseyside rivals in European action, but this 4-4 (7-5 on aggregate) sent the Londoners to the final. Drogba, in typically robust fashion, diverted the ball towards goal from an acute angle, and Pepe Reina shovelled it over the line. (Skip to 47 seconds on the video above).
One of Drogba’s most vital efforts in Champions League action. Deep into normal time Chelsea were trailing Bayern Munich and staring down the barrel of heartbreak in the Allianz Arena. However, the big Ivorian rose to head home from a corner, sending travelling Blues into a state of ecstasy. We all know how the night ended, too.
Chelsea barely mustered a chance against a peak Barcelona side in 2012, but when they did, Drogba pounced. Ramires did the hard work with a lung-busting run down the left flank, and his cut-back found the Ivorian just seven yards from goal. A left-footed finish was enough to give the Blues a vital aggregate lead heading over to the Nou Camp.
Drogba’s best Champions League goal a penalty? YES! It may not have been a wonder-strike, but the burly forward showed supreme composure to tuck away the vital spot-kick and claim Chelsea’s first ever Champions League trophy. It also turned out to be the last kick of his first spell at the club. Lovely.