When Jose Mourinho announced that he was bringing in an Ivory Coast international called Didier Drogba for £23.8 million from Marseille at the start of the 2004/05 season, eyes were raised, ears were pricked, journalists were intrigued.
The 26 year-old striker from Abidjan in Ivory Coast was definitely going to be a big gamble by Mourinho. And the gamble has definitely paid off.
Despite his first season being hampered by a stomach injury at Liverpool, which ruled him out for two months, Drogba scored an impressive 16 goals in 40 games, with the second best goals-to-games ratio in the Premiership that season, but it came at a price: he had started a bad reputation as being a diver.
Nevertheless, Chelsea rampaged to a Premiership and Carling Cup double, with Drogba scoring the winner against Liverpool to clinch the Carling Cup at the Millennium Stadium.
2005-06 gave Drogba 16 goals again as Chelsea retained their Premiership crown. However, his reputation took a turn for the worse as he was discovered to be a cheater and a diver.
He finished the 2005-06 season as the top dive provider in the Premier League, with 11 dives according to Victim Stats, a bad record for any top-class player. He was so disheartened that he contemplated a move away from Chelsea, but signed a new contract in 2006, saying that he looked forward to playing with new team-mates Michael Ballack, Salomon Kalou, Andriy Shevchenko and Mikel John Obi.
The 2006-07 season was a personal success for Drogba as he hit 33 goals in all competitions (more than his tally in the previous two seasons combined), including 20 in the Premier League to win the Golden Boot.
In doing so, he became the first Chelsea player since Kenny Dixon in 1984-85 to reach 30 goals in a season. Although Chelsea lost the league to Manchester United, Drogba scored all of the goals in Chelsea's 2-1 Carling Cup final win over Arsenal and the FA Cup Final 1-0 victory over Manchester United.
In January 2007 Drogba was crowned the Ivorian Player of the Year and African Footballer of the Year. This undermined his class and ability and his deadly accuracy in front of goal. He narrowly missed out on PFA Player of the Year to an equally superb Cristiano Ronaldo.
The start of the 2007-08 season was tough for Didier, as he was reportedly in tears when Jose Mourinho told him he was leaving the club, and said "Mourinho's departure destroys a certain familiarity we had at the club. Many of us used to play first and foremost for the manager. Now we need to forget those feelings and find another source of motivation."
Following these claims, Drogba told France Football Magazine "I want to leave Chelsea. Something is broken with Chelsea, the damage is big in the dressing room." In the interview he also claimed that "morale has plummeted since Jose Mourinho left."
Despite having signed a four year contract with the club in 2006, Drogba reportedly pointed out several favoured clubs in the interview, including AC Milan and Real Madrid, though recently he admitted he regrets claiming he wants to leave the club, and claims to be 100% committed to the club.
Drogba has nevertheless scored 15 goals this season after his early season lapse. A good comeback. With Chelsea still on for a double, they'll be a force to be reckoned with as long as Drogba is leading the line.
His prolific scoring always hits the back of he net with the fans. He has been an undoubted success for Chelsea, and is one of the crucial factors to their status as one of he best teams in Europe.
Hats off to you Jose, you unleashed a talisman on the Premier League...
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