“Could this be Didier Drogba’s last kick of a football for Chelsea, and can he win the Club the Champions League in the process? You can’t write it.”
Two years on from that glorious day — and almost exactly 10 years to the day since Chelsea first signed him — the Drog returns.
It is a quite outstanding moment that has sent the Chelsea fans into delirium, and sent shockwaves around the Arsenal world too.
And one should not be surprised with his return. Many may regard the 36-year-old as a rusting old soul, but it is clear why Mourinho still sees him as “one of the best strikers in Europe”. Here are three reasons why his return will work:
1) He knows José Mourinho
There is nothing better than when a player already knows a manager’s way of working. The Mourinho-Drogba love affair is quite remarkable in that it blossomed over only three years, yet feels like they were close for decades before. The fact Drogba wanted to leave once Mourinho was fired in 2007 is indicative of his affection for the Special One, and it is no doubt reciprocated.
Mourinho was the man who gave Drogba his real big chance in the game, allowed him to make a name for himself and trusted him even with alternatives like Juan Sebastian Veron and Andriy Shevchenko at his disposal. The way the manager has imparted his knowledge and confidence has shown through in Drogba’s style. He has allowed him to go into ‘beast mode’ on the field and it has delivered very successfully before. Why not now?
2) He knows Chelsea
This is not a 19-year-old foreigner who is not accustomed to Premier League play. Drogba will need no time to hit the ground running, and if Costa does and fans start to feel Costa is another striker going to waste, what better a sight than for another talisman in Drogba to pop up with the occasional reminder that Chelsea do not mess up all their strikers? He is a hugely influential man on and off the field, who knows that even if your Chelsea career starts slowly, you just have to shut up, work harder and perform in the big matches, some traits Lukaku and Costa will no doubt have to learn.
Whilst the Ivorian may not be first-choice, you can certainly see him thriving as a super-sub or a cup player (how many more will he score at Wembley?)
3) He has not lost much of his quality
Age should hit any player, but Drogba is no ordinary player. Many strikers with pace have suffered the ravages of time (a la Torres) but Drogba can continue to play, and at a very high level, because his game was never about pace. It was about intelligence, about tactics, about positional play and brute strength. And who can say it is not about emotion and adrenaline. A true big game player; the bigger the game, the better the performance. Thus, as long as he continues to eat well and maintain his strength, so he will not have weakened significantly. Costa as the main man and Drogba as the back-up is a formidable duo and shall more than compensate the unpredictability of Torres’ game.
This is no emotional farewell, no final hurrah for Drogba before he retires. This is as hungry a man as ever, making up for lost time with José Mourinho. This is a man who, if you cut him open, will bleed blue blood. A man who will fight and fight for the team and who knows the Club inside out. We are in for another special year.