Didier Drogba is doing a BBC Sport column from the World Cup where he has had some really interesting insight on the action to date. Today his focus is on the strikers at the competition, and he told an interesting story about his arrival at Chelsea and how he had had to change his game.
“When I joined Chelsea from Marseille in 2004, the manager Jose Mourinho asked me to play in a way that was different to what I had been doing in France. “With Marseille I was more about attacking the line, running forwards and really going into the space behind the defenders.
“Instead, Jose wanted me to play in more of a holding position, to help the team get up the pitch. “I knew that if I didn’t adapt to his philosophy, I wouldn’t play. I wanted to be in the team, so I made the effort to change my game. “At Chelsea, I had to learn how to come backwards, towards the ball, to receive it.
“That’s where I think some people under- estimate the intelligence of footballers, because firstly you need to be smart enough to realise what you need to do to be able to play, and then you have to apply it.”
We remember it really clearly, the time it took for Drogba to adapt to a new league and a new style of play. His time at Chelsea ended with such glory that it’s easy to forget there were a lot of question marks about him after his first season. Fans – largely spoiled by Roman’s lavish spending – weren’t sold after a tricky first year, and plenty were keen to move on from the Ivorian.
But as he adapted to what his coach wanted he played better and better, and while he was never prolific like some of the other Premier League greats, his all round play and his big game performances ensured that he’s remembered forever as an icon of the club.
Any new forwards coming to play in Chelsea’s “cursed” striker position should remember the hard work Drogba put in, and fans should remember how their patience in 2004 paid off.