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On This Day in 2012: Didier Drogba heads for China after departing Chelsea

Didier Drogba left Chelsea as a Champions League winner (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Didier Drogba left Chelsea as a Champions League winner (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Didier Drogba confirmed he was joining Shanghai Shenhua on this day a decade ago following the expiration of his Chelsea contract.

Fresh from firing the Blues to their maiden Champions League triumph, the Ivory Coast international agreed a two-and-a-half-year deal with the Chinese club, reportedly worth £200,000 per week.

The move saw him reunited with fellow former Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka.

“I am looking forward to a new challenge, to experiencing a new culture, and excited about the new developments in the Chinese Super League,” said Drogba.

“I hope to help promote Chinese football around the world and further improve the links between China and Africa.”

Drogba, then aged 34, had been continually linked with Shanghai after contract talks at Stamford Bridge stalled over the length of a new deal.

The previous month he had scored the winning penalty in Chelsea’s shoot-out Champions League final success over Bayern Munich, having earlier forced extra-time with a late header, and fired the decisive goal in the club’s FA Cup final win over Liverpool at Wembley.

Didier Drogba won a fourth Premier League title after returning to Chelsea for a second spell in 2014
Didier Drogba won a fourth Premier League title after returning to Chelsea for a second spell in 2014 (Nick Potts/PA)

His stay in China proved to be brief.

After registering eight goals in just 11 outings, he transferred to Turkish club Galatasaray in January 2013 before returning to Chelsea for a second stint in July 2014.

He won a fourth Premier League title with the Blues the following season – adding to the four FA Cup successes, three League Cup triumphs and European glory from his maiden spell – before moving on to MLS side Montreal Impact in 2015 and then finishing his career with Phoenix Rising in 2018.

In total, Drogba managed 164 goals in 381 appearances for Chelsea, having initially been one of Jose Mourinho’s first major signings when he arrived from Marseille for £24million in 2004.