x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Didier Drogba brings curtain down on Chelsea career

Striker bids an emotional farewell and gets ready for 'another adventure' as Middle East clubs put on alert.

Didier Drogba announced his decision to his teammates even before Chelsea's Champions League victory parade came to an end.
Didier Drogba announced his decision to his teammates even before Chelsea's Champions League victory parade came to an end.

Didier Drogba has almost certainly played his last game for Chelsea with his last act for the club being the winning penalty in the shoot-out that gave them victory over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.

As team's victory bus parade ended its crawl along west London's King's Road on Sunday evening, Drogba had a quiet word with the driver and asked him to stop at an old school gymnasium in Putney.

The whole squad disembarked and sat in the deserted gym as the striker broke down in tears and told them that he was leaving after eight years at the club.

Just hours earlier, John Terry, the captain, had led chants of "Dider must stay!" during the bus parade. But Drogba confirmed that his future will be elsewhere.

As he said the words, "We will no longer be together next season," his voice broke and he started crying.

"I did not want to slip out like a thief in the night, or for my teammates to learn of my departure from the TV," he explained in a moving diary he has written in France Football magazine, published today. "When you're given leadership, you must respect the responsibility to the end.

"As I had decided to leave, I wanted to look them in the eye, except I was not able to do it. I cracked. Even though it's been three years since I said that I wanted to leave, at that moment, I found it hard to admit that it's over with this club especially since I did not see it ending like this.

"But I could not see myself sitting on the bench watching others play when the club plans to set up a new team. I'm not relieved, I am especially sad to leave such good guys.

"But there it is, I'm preparing for my leap into the void, into the unknown.

"It'll be another adventure."

Drogba went on to reveal that he has no intention of moving to one of Europe's top leagues to continue his career. The 34 year old has been expected to link up with his former teammate Nicolas Anelka at the Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua but he gave hope to clubs elsewhere, in Russia, the USA and the Middle East, when he said he has not decided where to play next.

"I did not want to choose my destination before the end of the season," he said.

"All in good time. There is no rush. I actually asked for a meeting with [Roman] Abramovich [the owner] in the next few days. We'll be talking about the rain, the weather ... and Chelsea too.

"He knows that the club has made me an offer I didn't want.

"But if I must leave, it will be for adventure that's totally different from the big leagues. First, because there is no question I would play for anyone else in England other than Chelsea and also, because I don't know what I could get in Spain, Italy or Germany, in these countries that I don't already know.

"I don't want to start an ordinary adventure elsewhere. I'm more attracted to a new life."

Drogba scored the winning goal in the FA Cup final win over Liverpool and the goal that took the Champions League final into extra-time, before he scored the winning penalty in the shoot-out.

The centre-forward revealed the goalkeeping coach Christophe Lollichon convinced him to shorten his run-up for the winning spot-kick past Bayern 's Manuel Neuer.

Lollichon had pointed out the goalkeeper often dived to his left against right-footed kickers and right against left-footed kickers.

"It is true that Christophe briefed us well," said Drogba. "But just to make sure, I shortened my run-up and waited a little to see if Neuer would dive left.

"Before I even hit the ball, I saw him move to the left. I knew then that we had won."

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