Some players are mirrors of their managers, and Didier Drogba was Jose Mourinho incarnate on the pitch for Chelsea. A born winner, the Ivorian led the Chelsea front line with a fearless tenacity and world-class ability that few, if any, defenders could cope with. As part of our Best Premier League Transfers Ever series, we take a look at how Drogba became a Stamford Bridge legend…

Drogba’s journey to the top took some time to get going. A late bloomer in France, Drogba’s career had stalled at the age of 21 – but he earned a move from Guingamp to Marseille in 2003, and an excellent season at OM saw Chelsea part with £24million for his services. Drogba provided the perfect foil for Mourinho’s new-look side: able to lead the line and play with his back to goal, the forward was the fearless fulcrum of the team, bullying centre-backs in the air and bewitching them on the deck with a sureness of touch and superb finishing technique.

Drogba won the Premier League title in his first season in England, scoring 16 goals in all competitions. Sixteen more goals and another title followed the next season, and he broke the 20-goal barrier in the League the next year – though Mourinho and Chelsea parted ways not long into the 2007/08 campaign. Mourinho’s exit hit Drogba hard, with the striker shedding tears when the coach told him he was leaving; the forward made no secret of the Portuguese’s impact on his life and career, and how Mourinho was a key motivator for the squad.

Drogba posted lighter returns in 07/08 and 08/09, but was back to his very best in 09/10 under Guus Hiddink – he netted 29 in 32 League games as Chelsea beat Manchester United to the title by one point, while also lifting the FA Cup. His goal in the 2-1 win at Old Trafford late in the season was viewed by many as that goal that decided the title race, while a hat-trick on the final day in an 8-0 demolition of Wigan was a perfect end to a stunning individual campaign.



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