You have to choose one XI to win the most important game of the year … you’re choosing the big Ivorian to go up top, aren’t you? Yes! Of course, you are!
Before you ask, that question was rhetorical – of course you’re going to pick Didier Drogba to play up front in any big game you have. I don’t care about your personal biases, because I’m putting my own aside for this – and Ultra United is all about celebrating the best of the game regardless of who has been able to enjoy it the most.
The fact is, the guy was immense.
As far as strikers go, I suppose we can say that Didier was another contrary to the convention. Don’t get me wrong, he was a very strong goal-scorer and capable of mixing it with the best when it came to simply kicking a ball in the net, but it would be really unfair to define his entire game by this ability alone.
Even from his earlier days of turning out in London Blue, Didier Drogba established himself as one of the most lethal strikers in the league – and in more ways than your average goal-getter. To begin with, there was no question as to whether or not he had the size or stature needed to hold his own against Premier League defences. But he also had the intelligence to understand what would be best to succeed in the face of adversity.
Whether he needed to post up in front of you with the ball at his feet, or play with his back to goal and back himself up into your grill, he knew what to do and when to do it. And this is particularly critical when it comes to playing in the bigger games of the domestic and European season.
“Local derbies, top four six-pointers, title challenges or cup finals — if the game was big, Drogba got bigger“Carla Anka
on Didier Drogba’s big-game record.
Throughout his career, this style followed him on a scoring record which included ten goals, in ten tournament finals … to win ten trophies. The pinnacle of which arguably game in Chelsea’s 2011-12 UEFA Champions League triumph over FC Bayern – in a largely one-sided, yet beautiful affair at the Allianz Arena in the summer of the latter year.
Honestly, if you’re one of those people that remember this game for nothing more than some penalty antics towards the end, then I strongly suggest that you go back and watch some highlights of it – purely in order to remember just how high the odds were stacked against Chelsea throughout the night.
As the game ebbed in flowed, it seemed to only be going in one direction – towards the Chelsea goal. In fact, an ageing Didier Drogba would have been lucky to find more than three opportunities in normal time to take the ball under his control. But that’s the thing about big-time players like him … he only ever needs one.
Hence why he was the one to be on the end of Chelsea’s headed equaliser late into the second half, and for the Blues’ game-winning penalty by the end of the shoot-out.
In his book ‘Committed‘ – which you can check out by clicking the link above, Drogba puts down his game-winning mentality to his unrelenting desire to seek a better life for his family and friends; all the more enhanced by remembering his tough up-bringing in the Ivory Coast. And the fact that his post-playing life has been largely spent to improve this for the next generation makes things even better.
Chelsea fan or not, you just gotta love Didier Drogba … and that’s coming from a Manchester United fan!