The best centre forward in the Premier League – or a diving, whinging, theatrical cheat who uses his elbows as much as his feet? Didier Drogba certainly polarises opinions.
There is no doubt that, when he’s really on his game, Drogba can completely overpower and dominate even the best central defenders. Physically strong, excellent in the air, able to strike a dead ball ferociously and with a true predatory instinct inside the penalty area, he embodies everything that a true ‘centre forward’ should possess – and he certainly has that little bit of ‘devil’ in him as well.
Although born on the Ivory Coast in 1978, much of Drogba’s early life was spent in France and, although always a footballer, he didn’t get his first professional contract until he was 21 years of age. Having represented Le Mans and Guingamp, it was a big money transfer to Olympique de Marseille in 2003 that made the player familiar to a wider audience, especially as they reached the UEFA Cup Final at the end of his only season with the club. It is a mark of the impact he made, though, that, even after just one season there, his name is still sung by the local ultras and his shirt is framed in the local cathedral.
Since signing for Chelsea in the summer of 2004, Drogba has สมัคร ufabet มือถือ scored, at the time of writing, 109 goals in 234 games in all competitions – a highly impressive scoring ratio approaching a goal every other game. Things haven’t always been easy for him at the club, though. Clearly the departure of José Mourinho in 2007 had a hugely negative impact on him and he was often quoted as saying that he would leave the club. The arrival of, firstly, Gus Hiddink and, more recently, Carlo Ancelotti completely revitalised his attitude, however, and his admiration of the new coach and his methods has been genuinely expressed. Just as another Italian coach proved that Lampard and Gerrard could, in fact, play successfully together in an England side, so Chelsea’s Italian has had no difficulties in combining Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, who had previously been regarded as incompatible.
Despite his obvious talent, Drogba has no shortage of detractors amongst spectators and pundits in England. His apparent willingness to tumble theatrically in the penalty area with, sometimes, the bare minimum of contact, combined with an aggression that occasionally makes spectators shudder both mean that opposition fans can always be relied upon to give the player a hostile welcome to their part of the pitch. Such is his competitive nature that, as after the infamous end of the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona last season, he can find himself in disciplinary trouble.