Chelsea legend Didier Drogba has admitted that he had wanted to leave the club after just one season but decided to stay due to the presence of former manager Jose Mourinho. The Ivorian joined the Blues from Marseille in 2004 and went on to establish himself as a legend of the club, with 162 goals in all competitions across two spells.
During his time with the Blues, Drogba won the Premier League Golden Boot twice, one Chelsea player of the year award and he also helped the club to win four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and one Community Shield.
After leaving the Blues for the first time in 2012, Drogba went on to have spells with Shanghai Shenhua in China and Galatasary in Turkey. He made a surprise return to Stamford Bridge aged 36 in 2014 as cover for then first-choice striker Diego Costa and performed his duties with distinction as he scored several goals in all competitions to help the Blues win the League Cup and Premier League during that season, which also happened to come during Mourinho’s second stint as manager of the club.
Though Drogba represented a number of clubs throughout his career, he is best remembered for his time with Chelsea. His first season at Stamford Bridge (2004-05) was, however, rather mediocre, as he managed just 16 goals in all competitions from 41 appearances.
Had Drogba gave into his urges and left the Blues after just one year, his career could have undergone a completely different path.
He said, as quoted by Metro: “There was a time after the first season I was looking for that comfort zone, which means going back to Marseille to be the only striker with the team playing for you.
“And then I heard Mourinho saying something really interesting to me and the team. He was talking about the players. He was saying, ‘You know, if you want to be the only king, then go back to the team that you were playing and scoring for. Go back there.
“’But here, there’s 22 kings. So you accept it, work together, or you go — go back to where you came from and be the only king where everybody is behind you.’
“I understood it. For me, this is the challenge I was expecting and I had done that with Marseille already. Now I had arrived at a team where even the centre-back had scored 10 or 15 goals in the season. Suddenly I thought, ‘Wow, where is my place here?’ I knew I needed to improve and that’s what really challenged me and it’s why I became the player that I was.”