LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 20: Didier Drogba of Chelsea lifts the Champions League trophy during the Chelsea victory parade following their UEFA Champions League and FA Cup victories on May 20, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
I'll miss you.
I guess I'm supposed to say more than that in a post about a Chelsea legend leaving the club. It's difficult, though. Didier Drogba is Didier Drogba. We're long since past having to use words to describe the man. He exists, he is ours, and that's a big part of what makes Chelsea Chelsea. And now, having won the trophy that's eluded the club for so long, the 34-year-old will move on, embracing the twilight of his career with a move away from the team that he catapulted into the stars just two days ago.
The France Football quotes have been sitting in a tab all morning, demanding my attention. I left them there, focused on other things, other problems. I was hoping that someone would come and tell me that no, Drogba isn't leaving, that they'd gotten it all wrong. This is the sort of thing that happens in football, after all.
But no. The hours have whizzed by and no retraction has been forthcoming. Here are the quotes:
We will not be together next season. As I have decided to leave, I wanted to tell them (my team-mates) to their faces. They made me break down. I found it hard to admit that it was finished with me and the club.
But I don't envisage sitting on the bench watching others play at a time when the club is looking at putting together a new team. So there we go, I am readying myself for a great leap into the unknown. It will be another adventure.
I don't think I'd ever really prepared myself for him leaving, if I'm perfectly honest. I'd said that him staying or going should be his decision, that he'd earned the right to decide when the time was right to leave Stamford Bridge, but I wasn't expecting him to choose to leave at the end of this season. But the Champions League win - what a win! - has completely changed the atmosphere around the club and means that Drogba's finally gotten the one trophy he really, desperately wanted. He can now go out on top.
The time is right, I suppose. But the time will never really be right. I'll miss you, Didier. You were the powerhouse behind an incredible series of Chelsea teams, and your efforts have won us everything we could ever have hoped for. I don't know where you're going just yet, but I do know that you're going to kick its ass.
Thank you. Thank you for everything.