5 stories fans must read about in Didier Drogba's new autobiography 'Commitment'
Didier Drogba was a cult hero at Stamford BridgeDidier Drogba. A formidable striker who was the flag bearer for Chelsea Football Club for as long as he played for them. The zeal with which the Ivory Coast international donned the blue shirt was quite palpable when one watched him play for the club. He helped the Londoners to four Premier League titles and the club's first ever Champions League title, where he scored a blistering header to equalise in the final minutes of regulation time before scoring the winning penalty in the shootout.The Ivory Coast striker, who played his last game for Chelsea in May earlier this year, has released an autobiography Commitment which encapsulates the events in his life from the initial struggles in Paris to developing into Premier League’s most feared striker. The book sheds some light on how the fearsome striker spent his time at Chelsea and some interesting dressing room anecdotes along with the not so happy ones.Here, we take a look at five of those instances mentioned in the book which every football fan, especially the Blues fans, should be aware of.
#1 Getting to know John Terry
Tito, as he was called by his mother, was bought by Chelsea from French club Marseille where he scored 32 goals in a single season. The Londoners paid £24 million for the Ivorian which was a club record transfer fee back then.
Born in Ivory Coast and brought up in France, Drogba had little knowledge of the English football circuit. He had no clue about the club he joined as well. During the first training session upon his arrival, the striker had no idea as to who the club’s captain was. He spotted a “tall, strong guy” whom he assumed was a reserve team player and was made to train with the first team so as to gain some experience.
However, the Ivorian was surprised to know that the very player he thought off as a fringe player, was the club’s captain, John Terry.
“I noticed a tall, strong guy who looked so young, and who walked and carried himself in such a way that I assumed he was from the reserves. ‘That's interesting,’ I thought. ‘They've obviously brought him over to get a bit of senior squad experience.’
“Towards the end of the session I asked another player who the young guy was. ‘It's the captain!’ he replied, laughing. ‘John Terry.’
“That's how little I know about the team – I hadn't even recognised their new young captain.”
#2 Frank Lampard persuading Drogba to stay
The Ivory Coast player scored 16 goals in both of his first two seasons at Stamford Bridge and the club won back-to-back Premier League title under the guidance of a young Portuguese manager, Jose Mourinho.
But during Drogba’s second season at the club, he was accused of deceiving the referee on a couple of occasions when he handled the ball before scoring the goal. The first of the two goals was disallowed, but the second one against Manchester City was not.
The striker was condemned by the media for his actions and was reportedly unsettled after the incident. Some diving instances here and there only added to the amount of hostility he faced.
Drogba recalls in the book that it was Frank Lampard’s text message to him which made up his mind to drop the idea of leaving the club.
“The guy who single-handedly convinced me to stay was Frank Lampard,” he said. “One day, just after the World Cup, I was having a short family holiday in Marrakesh when I received a text message from him.
“Strange, because I didn't remember ever having been texted by him during the entire two seasons I'd already been at Chelsea. I looked at the message, and I remember it to this day: 'Hi DD, I hope that you're staying, because we have to win the league together, and we have to win the Champions League together!'
“I just stared at the phone. Frank wasn't the sort to talk a lot. He's really calm. He's a leader, but he leads more by his goals, by what he does on the pitch, not by words. Along with JT, he was the boss of the team.”
He added: “For me, receiving that text was really powerful. It was proof that I was wanted – not that the team or the club didn't want me before, but I needed someone to tell me.”
#3 Sacking of Luiz Felipe Scolari
The Brazilian manager had rejected the advances of Manchester City to join Chelsea in the summer of 2008. But His relationship with the Ivorian striker was not the best and, as Drogba mentions in his book, Scolari wanted to replace the then 30-year-old with the Brazilian striker Adriano who was playing for Internazionale at that time.
The ex-Portugal coach even told Drogba that the striker wouldn’t feature in his team and should plan to move on come January 2009. However, the Ivorian striker who was loved by the fans and the club’s board, talked to the owner Roman Abramovich about the situation and ultimately it was Scolari who was ousted from the club later in the season and not the player.
“When I left the meeting, the first thing I did was call Mr Abramovich and explain the situation via one of his assistants.”
He was then informed by the owner: “No, you're not going anywhere. Who said you were going?”
#4 Fernando Torres\'s struggles
Fernando Torres joined Chelsea in the January transfer window of 2011 for an undisclosed fee reported to be £50 million which made him the most expensive signing in English football history. He played the best football of his life whilst at Liverpool and became the Kop’s favorite. However, the ambition to win trophies and play in Europe forced him to make a move to London, something he might regret for the rest of his life.
He struggled at Chelsea and Drogba, who was supposed to play second fiddle to the Spaniard upon his arrival, mentions in the book that it was difficult for El Nino as he was one of the ‘22 Kings’ in the Blues dressing room, whereas, back at Liverpool he was supposedly the most respected and loved player after Steven Gerrard.
“With all due respect to Liverpool, at that club, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres had been the kings,” Drogba wrote. “At Chelsea, there were 22 kings. So I really felt for Nando, because I knew how difficult the situation was for him.”
He added: “At Liverpool, the team was geared around him as their main striker. It wasn't that others couldn't score – they could – but they fed him the ball, they structured the team around him with the aim that he would score. That's not how it was at Chelsea.”
The Ivorian striker also mentioned that he made up his mind that he won’t be the main striker of the team for long and should accept the fact.
“As I was 32, people inevitably started to think, 'Ah, he's not what he was before, he's over the hill.'
“Suddenly Fernando Torres was signed, partly because I had been ill and partly because, as they told me, they wanted to start preparing the succession, the time when I was no longer around. 'OK, I'm not done yet, but hey, no problem!' I felt like saying.
“I understood the club's point of view, though. They had to anticipate, and I had to accept.”
Ultimately, both players had a say in the Champions League – Torres in the semi-final against Barcelona and Drogba in the final against Bayern Munich.
#5 That night in Munich
When giving the details of how Chelsea managed to overcome Bavarian giants Bayern Munich in their own backyard in the Champions League final of 2012, Drogba recalls that he literally gave up all hopes when Thomas Muller scored from a header in the 83rd minute of the match. But the Juan Mata emboldened the Ivorian’s spirits as the two combined in the 88th minute to score the equaliser for their team when Mata’s corner was headed in by Drogba.
“As I replaced the ball on the centre spot for the restart, I was just saying ‘No, no, no!’ But Juan Mata, all of 24 years old, was the one to urge me on. ‘No, Didier’, he said, ‘you have to believe, you have to believe.’”
Bayern Munich were awarded a penalty three minutes into the extra time, but Arjen Robben failed to convert from the spot. The 37-year-old, in his book, gave a detailed explanation of what exactly happened at that moment.
Drogba said to him: “Arjen, you're a Chelsea player, you can't do this! Don't do it! Anyway, we'll know where you're going to shoot.
“It worked. We got inside his head, definitely, because his kick was weak – definitely weaker than it would normally have been – and Petr [Cech] saved it.”
Chelsea went on to win the final when Drogba converted the deciding spot kick.