Chelsea and Ivory Coast legend Didier Drogba has announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 40, ending an illustrious career that lasted 20 years, spanned three decades and saw him become one of the Premier League’s greatest ever imports.
Drogba had most recently been turning out for Phoenix Rising of the USL Championship, a team he also co-owns. His most recent appearance came in the USL Cup playoff final against Louisville City earlier this month, a game Phoenix narrowly lost.
“After 20 years, I have decided to put an end to my playing career,” Drogba told BBC World Service.
“It’s the best way to end, helping some young talent to develop. To give something back to the game was the best way to finish as I have learned so much in the game.”
A relatively late bloomer, Drogba shot to fame during the 2003/04 campaign when his goals fired Marseille to the UEFA Cup final in what was his only season with the club.
The Ivorian had earlier played for Le Mans and Guingamp and went on to join Chelsea in a £24m deal in the summer of 2004. He won back-to-back Premier League titles in his first two seasons in England, adding another in 2009/10.
Drogba also won four FA Cups with Chelsea, scoring the winning goal against Manchester United in the first final to be played at the new Wembley Stadium in 2007, and rounded off his Chelsea career in 2012 by helping the club finally win the Champions League.
Drogba then spent time with Shanghai Shenhua and Galatasaray before returning to Chelsea for one more season and winning the fourth Premier League title of his career in 2014/15. A spell at Montreal Impact followed, and he moved to Phoenix in 2017.
As an international player for Ivory Coast, Drogba scored 65 goals in 104 games for his country. He played in three World Cups and four African Cups in 12 years with Les Elephants.