Didier Drogba- Signing for Chelsea in July 2004 for £24 million, Drogba scored in his third game for the club with a header against Crystal Palace. His season was interrupted when he pulled a stomach muscle against Liverpool which kept him out of action for over two months. Chelsea won the Premier League, only their second English top-flight championship and their first in 50 years, and the League Cup, with Drogba scoring in extra time in a 3–2 final win against Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium, as well as reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League. Drogba scored 16 goals in 40 games for Chelsea in his first season: ten in the Premier League, five in the Champions League and one in the League Cup final.
Drogba started the 2005–06 season by scoring two goals in a Community Shield win over Arsenal. His reputation was marred amidst accusations of cheating during Chelsea's 2–0 win over Manchester City. Replays showed that he had used his hand to control the ball before scoring the second of his two goals. This occurred just a week after a similar incident against Fulham where the goal was disallowed. Chelsea went on to retain the league title with two games to play, becoming only the second club to win back-to-back English titles in the Premier League era. Again Drogba finished with 16 goals for the season, 12 in the Premier League, two in the Community Shield, one in the Champions League and one in the FA Cup.
Drogba out on tour with Chelsea in 2007
After the departure of Damien Duff to Newcastle United, Drogba switched from the number 15 shirt he had worn for Chelsea since 2004 to the number 11 shirt vacated by Duff. The 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 Kerry Dixon in 1984–85 to reach 30 goals in a season, scoring 20 in the Premier League, six in the Champions League, three in the FA Cup and four in the League Cup.
Among the highlights were scoring winners from outside the penalty area against Liverpool, Everton and Barcelona, a 93rd minute equaliser against Barcelona at the Camp Nou and both Chelsea's goals in their 2–1 League Cup final win over Arsenal. He also completed two hat-tricks; one against Watford and the other against Levski Sofia in the Champions League, Chelsea's first hat-trick in European competition since Gianluca Vialli in the Cup Winners' Cup in 1997. In his last competitive game that season, he scored the winning goal over Manchester United in the first FA Cup final at the new Wembley Stadium. This also meant that he joined Norman Whiteside (Manchester United in 1983) and Mark Hughes (Manchester United in 1994) as players who have scored goals in both English domestic finals in the same year, although Drogba was the first player to end up on the winning team after scoring in both finals.
In January 2007, Drogba was crowned the Ivorian Player of the Year, ahead of Kader Keïta, Aruna Dindane, and Kolo Touré. In March, he was named African Footballer of the Year for the first time, ahead of Samuel Eto'o and Chelsea teammate Michael Essien. His performances during the season saw him named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year and runner-up to Cristiano Ronaldo in the PFA Player of the Year awards.
Drogba faced problems off the pitch during the end of the season as his transfer from Marseille to Chelsea in July 2004 came under scrutiny. The Stevens inquiry in June 2007 expressed concerns because of the lack of co-operation from agents Pinhas Zahavi and Barry Silkman.
Drogba training with Chelsea in October 2007
The 2007–08 season began badly for Drogba as he expressed doubts about the departure of manager José Mourinho. He was reportedly in tears when 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". Despite having signed a four-year contract with the club in 2006, Drogba reportedly pointed out several favoured clubs in the interview, identifying Barcelona, Real Madrid, Milan or Internazionale as possible future destinations, he later admitted he regretted this and was 100% committed to Chelsea. He soon regained the trust of the board and fans, scoring in Chelsea's 2–0 victory over Middlesbrough on 20 October 2007, against Schalke 04 in the Champions League four days later, and two goals against Manchester City, giving superb performances in all.
Drogba continued scoring goals but suffered an injury at the training ground and decided to have an operation on his knee. He was unable to play for four weeks and missed key games against Valencia, Arsenal and Liverpool. Drogba returned from injury to play in an FA Cup third round match against Queens Park Rangers and wore the captain's armband for the last 30 minutes in which he was on the pitch, but that was his last performance for Chelsea before international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations. Upon his return, Drogba scored a goal in the 2008 League Cup Final, making him the all-time leading scorer in League Cup Finals with four goals, but could not help prevent Chelsea fall to a 2–1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur. Drogba also became the first player to score in three League Cup finals and the first to score in three consecutive English domestic cup finals. He scored both goals in a key 2–1 victory against Arsenal on 23 March 2008, bringing Chelsea equal on points with leaders Manchester United.
Drogba and Arsenal striker Robin van Persie in 2008
On 26 April 2008, Drogba faced controversy after a clash with Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidić. The Serbian centre-back had to have stitches under his lip after losing a tooth in the clash. There was discussion whether Drogba had the intention or not to injure his rival. The debate also called into question an earlier incident on 26 November 2006 where Drogba elbowed Vidić. Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson expressed concerns over elbowing in the Premier League. Despite media speculation, Drogba's yellow card for the clash was deemed adequate punishment by the Football Association.
Controversy still dogged the player as before the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg clash with Liverpool, Drogba was accused of diving by Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez. Benítez claimed to have compiled a four-year dossier of Drogba's "diving" antics but Drogba hit back at Benítez in an interview. On 30 April 2008, Drogba scored two goals in the second leg of the semi-final against Liverpool, which Chelsea won 3–2 at Stamford Bridge. This was the first time Chelsea had beaten Liverpool in the semi-finals of the Champions League, having lost their previous two meetings to Liverpool. This also led to Chelsea reaching their first Champions League Final. Drogba became Chelsea's top scorer in European competition, the two goals he scored putting his tally at 17, beating Peter Osgood's record of 16. Drogba was sent off in the 117th minute of the Champions League Final for slapping defender Vidić, becoming only the second player to be sent off in a European Cup final – after Jens Lehmann in 2006 – and the first for violent conduct. Chelsea went on to lose 6–5 on penalties after a 1–1 draw in extra time. Chelsea assistant boss Henk ten Cate revealed Drogba was due to take the decisive fifth spot-kick in the shootout. Team captain John Terry took his place but missed after slipping whilst taking the penalty.
Drogba playing for Chelsea in 2008
Drogba suffered a string of injuries early on in the 2008–09 season and struggled to regain fitness, missing games from August to November due to knee problems. He scored his first goal of the season in mid-November but there was little reason to celebrate: he incurred disciplinary action and a three match ban for throwing a coin back into the stands and Chelsea suffered a League Cup defeat against Burnley. Drogba scored his second goal of the season in a 2–1 victory against CFR Cluj in the UEFA Champions League, while his first Premier League goal of the season came in a 2–0 win against West Bromwich Albion in late December 2008. Having missed many games through injury and suspension, Drogba had lost his first team place and manager Scolari favoured playing Nicolas Anelka as a lone striker rather than pairing the two. However, he resolved to regain his position in the squad and Chelsea remained keen to keep the Ivorian.
Upon the temporary appointment of Guus Hiddink in early February following the sacking of Scolari, Drogba enjoyed a rejuvenation of sorts, returning to his rich goal-scoring form with four goals in five games after the new manager took over. His revival in form saw him net twice against Bolton Wanderers, and four times in four Champions League matches, one in each leg of the last sixteen and quarter-final of the competition against Juventus and Liverpool respectively, with these goals ensuring Chelsea's passage into the semi-finals. Just four days after his Champions League heroics, Drogba scored a late winner in the FA Cup semi-final match against Arsenal after Frank Lampard's superb pass found Drogba and he carefully rounded Arsenal goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański before slotting into an empty net. Drogba also caused controversy after Chelsea's Champions League semi-final defeat at the hands of Barcelona. Feeling that many decisions had gone against Chelsea, substituted Drogba confronted referee Tom Henning Øvrebø after the final whistle. He received a yellow card in the process and was recorded shouting "It's a fucking disgrace" into a live television camera. On 17 June 2009, UEFA subsequently handed him a six game European ban with the final two games suspended. The ban then was reduced by one match after an appeal by Chelsea. In the 2009 FA Cup Final, Drogba scored Chelsea's first and equalising goal as they went on to win 2–1. This was his sixth goal in a major cup final in England. Although Drogba had previously expressed his desire to switch clubs, he decided to remain with the Blues under new coach Carlo Ancelotti and sign a new contract.
Drogba in action against Fulham in 2009
Drogba began the 2009–10 season in fine form for Chelsea, netting a penalty during a shoot-out in the Community Shield over Manchester United, before scoring twice in a 2–1 victory over Hull City. Drogba earned himself an assist when he was fouled in the area to give Chelsea a penalty, which Frank Lampard converted, in a 3–1 victory over Sunderland. In Chelsea's third game of the season against West-London rivals Fulham, Drogba scored his third goal of the season. Drogba scored his fourth goal of the season, against Stoke City; Chelsea ended winning the game 2–1 with a late strike from Malouda. He added a fifth at home against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on 20 September. He scored his 100th goal for Chelsea in a 3–1 defeat against Wigan Athletic. Drogba was again important in the 2–0 win over title rivals Liverpool on 4 October. He assisted both goals, setting up Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda. He then scored a glancing header against Blackburn on 24 October 2009, bringing his tally to an impressive eight goals in eleven appearances, scoring his third goal in as many games. Drogba continued his fine form scoring a header against Bolton Wanderers in a 4–0 thrashing in the League Cup, Drogba went on to score a fine team goal in the same week with another 4–0 win against Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League.
After missing the first three Champions League matches for Chelsea with a ban, Drogba started the fourth game against Spanish side Atlético Madrid. He scored two goals in the last ten minutes and the match ended 2–2. The latter being a fine solo effort in which he beat a number of the opposition players and had his first effort saved by the goalkeeper but then slotted in the rebound. On 29 November, Drogba scored a brace against London rivals Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, the second of which a free kick from outside the box. It brought his tally for the season to 14 goals in 16 games. On 12 December, Drogba continued to impress with two goals in 3–3 draw against Everton.
Between 3 and 30 January Drogba was on Africa Cup of Nations duty and came back on 2 February against Hull City where he scored a 40th minute equaliser to tie the game 1–1. On 24 March, Drogba scored his 30th goal of the season in an away game against Portsmouth.
Chelsea after winning their league and cup double, May 2010
On 9 May, Drogba inspired Chelsea to win the Premier League by scoring a hat-trick in an 8–0 win over Wigan Athletic. In doing so, he not only collected his third League winner's medal, but also won the Golden Boot for the season, his second time doing so, by topping the chart with 29 league goals, beating Wayne Rooney to the title who remained on 26 goals. Both players had the same number of goals (26) before the start of their respective fixtures. However, during the game, Drogba appeared to be clearly angry with team-mate and regular penalty taker Frank Lampard, after Lampard refused to let Drogba take a penalty which would lead Chelsea to go 2–0 up and give him a chance of winning the golden boot. Lampard scored the penalty, but Drogba did not celebrate with his team-mates. Later on in the game though Ashley Cole was tripped in the box when Chelsea were already 5–0 up, and this time Lampard allowed Drogba to take the penalty, which he scored to go two goals clear of Rooney.
The following week, Drogba scored the only goal of the 2010 FA Cup Final against Portsmouth from a free-kick, keeping up his record of having scored in all six English cup finals (FA Cup and League Cup) in which he has played.
Drogba (back centre) preparing for a corner kick against Newcastle United on 28 November 2010
Drogba came on as a substitute for Anelka against Manchester United in the Community Shield, but could not help prevent Chelsea from succumbing to a 3–1 loss. However, he started the Premier League season in fine form, continuing from where he left off on the last day of the previous campaign as he scored a hat-trick against West Bromwich Albion in a 6–0 victory. In Chelsea's next game against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium, Drogba made three assists in another 6–0 win. Drogba also played the next game at home against Stoke City where he played the whole 90 minutes and scored his fourth Premier League goal of the season when he smashed home a penalty after Nicolas Anelka was brought down by Thomas Sørensen inside the box. On 7 November 2010, Drogba missed the first half of Chelsea's 2–0 defeat by Liverpool. It was later revealed that he had been suffering from malaria for at least a month. He had first complained of feeling unwell before the October 2010 international break but the illness was only diagnosed on 8 November 2010. Having diagnosed the problem, Chelsea insisted that he would make a full recovery within days.
Drogba with Chelsea after the 2012 UEFA Champions League Final
While playing against Norwich City on 27 August 2011, Drogba suffered a concussion in a collision with Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy. After missing two games, Drogba made his return to the Chelsea squad on 24 September against Swansea City. Drogba went on scoring his first goal of the season in a 4–1 win. Drogba received a red card on 23 October against Queens Park Rangers, Chelsea ended up losing 1–0. On 29 November, Drogba rejected a new deal with Chelsea and is set to sign for the highest bidder. On 31 December 2011, Drogba scored his 150th goal for Chelsea against Aston Villa, putting him level with Peter Osgood and Roy Bentley in terms of the club's top scorers of all time. Even though, Chelsea was leading with the penalty scored by Drobga, the game ended in a 3–1 loss for Chelsea.
Drogba scored his 99th Premier League goal for Chelsea on 25 February 2012, in a 3–0 win over Bolton Wanderers. It was also his 151st goal for Chelsea, moving him up to 4th among the club's all-time goalscorers, ahead of Roy Bentley and Peter Osgood. Drogba scored his 100th Premier League goal for Chelsea on 10 March 2012, in a 1–0 win over Stoke City. He is the first African player to reach that landmark.
Drogba scored his seventh goal at Wembley against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on 15 April, hammering the ball past former teammate Carlo Cudicini as Chelsea ran out 5–1 winners and secured a place in the FA Cup Final against Liverpool. Three days later, he scored a vital goal as Chelsea beat Barcelona 1–0 at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Semi-final clash. Drogba became the first player to score in four different FA Cup Finals, as he netted the winner in Chelsea's 2–1 triumph over Liverpool on 5 May.
In the Champions League final on 19 May 2012, Drogba scored the equaliser from Juan Mata's corner in the 88th minute, taking Chelsea into extra time and then penalties. He also scored the winning penalty in the 4–3 penalty-shootout that led Chelsea to the victory over Bayern Munich. Sir Alex Ferguson remarked: "As far as I was concerned, he [Drogba] won the Champions League for Chelsea." Drogba's headed effort marked his ninth goal in nine cup final appearances for Chelsea, Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola spoke after the match about Drogba's ability in big games: "In all their very important matches he has put a stamp on it." In November 2012 Drogba was named Chelsea's greatest ever player in a poll of 20,000 fans conducted by Chelsea Magazine.
Drogba (left) playing for Shanghai Shenhua in 2012
On 22 May 2012, Chelsea released a note on their official website announcing that Drogba "will be leaving the club when his contract expires at the end of June" 2012. On 19 June 2012, Drogba declared he would be joining Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua, linking up with his former Chelsea teammate Nicolas Anelka. It was reported that he signed a two-and-a-half-year deal where he will earn £200,000 a week. On 22 July, Drogba made his debut for Shanghai Shenhua in a 1–1 away draw against Guangzhou R&F, coming on as a substitute for Brazilian defender Moisés in the second half. He assisted Cao Yunding's equaliser in the 67th minute. On 4 August, he scored his first two goals in a 5–1 win against Hangzhou Greentown. He scored two more goals on 25 August, both set up by Anelka, as Shenhua drew 3–3 with Shandong Luneng.[