My star– Drogba

I bring you an excerpt from ESPN soccernet.com on Didier Drogba, two time african footballer of the year in a row, highest goal scorer in 2006, the big man who has scored the highest goal in Chelsea

“After an average first season at Chelsea, he became a monster of a striker in 2006/07, finishing as the Premier League’s top scorer with 20 goals and second to Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo in the voting for the PFA Player of the Year Award.

In 2005/06 he had sometimes been guilty of missing glorious chances and also shooting before considering the options. Drogba was much-maligned by many who felt Hernan Crespo deserved to be the first choice striker.However, Crespo was deemed surplus to requirements, largely due to Drogba’s upturn of form and Drogba has now blossomed into one of the best strikers in the league.

Ivory Coast international Drogba arrived in French football in 1983, living with his uncle Michel Goba – who had also been a professional footballer in the French Second Division.

But it was a hard path to the full-time game for Drogba.

He began his career as a right-back with Dunkirk, before being converted to a striker during his time with Abbeville.

Then at the age of 15, after joining Vannes, he was out of the game for a year to concentrate on academic studies after he had failed to progress at school.

After his enforced sabbatical he joined Levallois in 1994, before being handed a trial by Guingamp in 1997 – but a broken toe ended his hopes of a move.

He was also attracting interest from the bigger French clubs, including Paris St Germain and Monaco.

Drogba opted to join less glamourous club Le Mans where he was coached by his ‘spiritual father’, Marc Westerloppe.

The striker was never prolific for Le Mans, and he fell out of favour after Westerloppe had been sacked and replaced by Thierry Goudet.

Guingamp came back in for the player in 2001, and in 2002/03 their faith in the player’s ability was repaid with 17 goals. Drogba also won his first ever call-up into the full Ivory Coast squad.

FC Porto, managed by Jose Mourinho, had tried to sign him in the summer of 2002.

In the summer of 2003 he was signed by Marseille for £3.3million. The player enjoyed an outstanding season in the south of France, scoring five Champions League goals despite Marseille’s exit in the group stage.

His form continued in the UEFA Cup, bagging a further six goals as Marseille lost out in the final to Valencia.

And in Ligue 1, Drogba plundered 18 goals in 35 games – leading to him being named as Footballer of the Year in France.

After just one season with Marseille, Europe’s bigger clubs were showing interest. Juventus had a bid rejected for the striker, but Chelsea were always at the head of the queue.New Blues boss Mourinho initially had an £18million bid rejected, but finally got his man for an undisclosed fee – believed to be £24million, smashing the British record fee for a striker. It capped an amazing two years for the player, who signed a three-year contract.

Drogba, an immensely powerful striker who will cause trouble for any defence, made his debut for the club in a 1-0 victory over Manchester United on the opening day of the 2004/05 campaign.The striker bagged his first goal in a 2-0 win at Crystal Palace in his third appearance, but he was ruled out by injury for almost two months at the start of October.

Drogba scored 16 goals in his debut season, but many were not convinced by his contribution considering the £24million fee. Even so, he picked up winners’ medals in the Premiership and League Cup.

He started the 2005/06 well, keeping Hernan Crespo out of the side and producing much-improved performances. The striker finished with 12 goals and 11 assists and began to win over the Chelsea faithful as well as his second Premiership title.With the departure of Hernan Crespo and Damien Duff at the end of the 2005/06 season, Drogba’s place in the team looked more assured. Until the arrival of £30.1million striker Andriy Shevchenko.

However, the Ivorian took advantage of Shevchenko’s acclimatisation, and began to bang in the goals, while Shevchenko was relegated to the bench.

Committing his future to the club in November 2006, by signing a four year deal, Drogba’s goalscoring made him one of the most feared strikers in the Premiership and his winning header against Arsenal in the Carling Cup final in February 2007 took his goal tally to 28.

Drogba was also crowned the Ivorian Player of the Year, beating off opposition from such players as Lille’s Kader Keita, Lens’ Aruna Dindane, and Arsenal’s Kolo Toure.

Drogba became the first Chelsea player to score 30 goals in a season in all competitions since Kerry Dixon in 1985“.

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