Jose Mourinho and Didier Drogba enjoyed a very amiable manager-player relationship when they worked together at Chelsea, and in a recent television show, the pair demonstrated the bond that they formed during their time at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2004 to usher in the Abramovich era and the Portuguese quickly revamped the Chelsea squad, bringing in players such as Tiago, Michael Essien, Paulo Ferreira and Ricardo Carvalho. But it was the Ivorian forward’s signing, for a then club-record fee of £24 million, that proved to be the shrewdest piece of transfer business he ever conducted as Blues boss.
The Blues’ revolution took the Premier League by storm as they marched to back-to-back league titles with Drogba playing a significant role under Mourinho’s guidance. After the Portuguese left in 2007, the Ivorian continued to perform consistently for the club, leading them to a Champions League victory in 2012, before leaving Stamford Bridge himself.
Despite moving onto different directions, the duo maintained an affinity towards each other. In April 2013, when Galatasaray, who had Drogba in their ranks, visited Mourinho’s Real Madrid for a Champions League match, the Portuguese said he had created an emotional link with Drogba, before adding the striker will be part of his life forever. Mourinho returned to Chelsea in the summer of 2013 and in December of the same year, the Blues drew Drogba’s Galatasaray in the Champions League round of 16, pitting the two against each other once again. But this time, it was Drogba who spoke keenly of Mourinho, saying the Portuguese had turned him into a world-class striker.
In the summer of 2014, Mourinho once again secured the services of a 36-year-old Drogba as they marched to yet another Premier League championship. Presently, the Portuguese coaches Manchester United while Drogba plies his trade at Phoenix Rising in the USA, but both found time to assume punditry roles during this summer’s World Cup. Mourinho, who was at Manchester, had joined RT as an expert pundit and when Drogba, thousands of miles away at Moscow, appeared as a guest at the show, it was inevitable that the two exchanged wholehearted pleasantries.
Quizzed on what his message to Mourinho is, Drogba waved to his former manager while saying, “Bonjour, Papa!” The Portuguese replied in kind, saying, “Papa is papa forever, and son is son forever too. I gave him the biggest opportunity of his career to change from Marseille to the Premier League. So I gave him something very important but he gave me his sweat and his blood every minute he was on the pitch for me.” But before he could be accused of being a tenderhearted person, Mourinho added, “So yeah, my kid is my kid, in spite of the fact that he looks older than me” – a most wonderful attempt to keep his reputation as a coldhearted cynic intact.