Drogba calls time on an exceptional career
LFP ambassador Didier Drogba, who had been playing for Phoenix Rising, has finally hung up the boots after a glittering run at the highest levels of world football.
Didier Drogba - an icon in French, African and world football - has finally called time on a wonderful 20-year career. Now aged 40, the Côte d'Ivoire international has announced that his past season with USL side Phoenix Rising was his last as a player.
"I'd like to thanks all the players, coaches, teams and supporters I met along the way, all of whom made my career such a special thing," he declared on his Twitter account. "A huge thanks from the bottom of my heart to my family and my personal team for having supported me throughout my career, in the tough moments as well as the great ones."
In France, it was in Le Mans that Drogba began his senior career, signing a professional contract with the club after rising through its youth academy. Between 1998 and January 2002, he played 54 Domino's Ligue 2 matches for 11 goals. His profile caught the eye of EA Guingamp, who offered him the opportunity to make his Ligue 1 Conforama debut, and after a six-month transition period (11 matches, three goals), Didier Drogba exploded onto the scene.
Just like his team, who finished seventh, the freshly minted Ivorian international had a superb season, finishing up third on the scoring chart with 17 goals (in 34 matches) and catching the eye of Olympique de Marseille, who snapped him up for the following season. The young striker seemed to improve constantly, be it in domestic competition (19 goals, third on the scoring chart) or Europe (five goals in the UEFA Champions League, six in the UEFA Cup, where OM reached the final), and became an idol for the OM fans, who were doubtless hoping to enjoy his talents for more than the single season he spent on the Mediterranean coast.
The big time
Next up, it was Chelsea FC's turn to nurture the talents of the man from Abidjan, the London club taking him across the channel to being a triumphant nine-season partnership (between 2004 and 2012 and in 2014-15) that yielded 14 trophies, including the UEFA Champions League in 2012 and four Premier League titles (2005, 2006, 2010 and 2015). He bagged 100 goals in 226 EPL appearances, topping the scoring chart in seasons 2006-07 (20 goals) and 2009-10 (29 goals).
His experiences in China (Shanghai Shenhua), Turkey (Galatasaray) and, finally, North America (Montreal Impact in the MLS and Phoenix Rising in the USL), where he continued to goal after goal and underline his international renown.
He also made his mark on African football, with 65 goals in 106 caps and an undying commitment to Les Éléphants, with whom he twice reached the AFCON final (2006 and 2012). He was twice voted African Player of the Year (2006 and 2009).
In 2007, Didier Drogba created a foundation to promote health, education and the empowerment of peoples in Africa. On 14 December 2017, he became an ambassador of the Ligue de Football Professional (LFP).