Rumors are aflutter that Didier Drogba is ready to hang up his boots. Is the Chelsea legend ready to make a return to London and join the Blues' coaching staff? Only time will tell on that front. Whether right on time or jumping the gun, we take a look back at some of the key stops along the way for the prolific striker. -- Alex Dowd
Getty ImagesBen Hoskins
Starting strong in France (1998-2004)
Didier Drogba, a Côte d’Ivoire native, emigrated to France at an early age and quickly blossomed into an impressive player. His career began in earnest at the age of 21, when he signed his first professional contract with Le Mans. After a quick stop at Guingamp from 2002-03, where he helped the side avoid relegation to Ligue 2, he then transferred to Marseille. His career continued its ascendancy at Marseille in 2003-04, where he would claim not only the Ligue 1 Player of the Year honor, but also the attention of top clubs around Europe.
AFP/Getty ImagesPHILIPPE HUGUEN
Instant impact at Chelsea (2004-06)
Chelsea came knocking on Marseille’s door with a big bag of cash (roughly $26 million worth) for the rights to Drogba’s services in the summer of 2004. The striker certainly seemed to be worth every penny. Drogba helped steer the Blues to their second-ever (and first in 50 years) English top-flight title in the 2004-05 season. He and the West London club repeated the feat the following season.
AFP/Getty ImagesPAUL BARKER
A decade of international success (2002-12)
Drogba’s international career with Côte d’Ivoire started back in 2002, but 2006 marks the year the true accomplishments began to roll in. In his first year donning the captain’s armband for Côte d’Ivoire, Drogba led Les Éléphants to their first-ever World Cup in 2006. He would go on to mark his career with several accolades, both individual and team, including being named the African Footballer of the Year in 2006, and then again in 2009. The striker would go on to retire from international play in 2014 with a team-record 65 goals.
AFP/Getty ImagesVALERY HACHE
Legend grows at Chelsea (2006-2012)
Chelsea fans continued to embrace Drogba as a club icon – as evidenced by a “Drogba Legend” banner that adorned Stamford Bridge – throughout the striker’s years in Blue. And why wouldn’t they? After another Premier League title in 2009-10, Drogba piloted Chelsea to perhaps their biggest-ever feat in 2012: The Champions League title. With Chelsea facing elimination in the final against Bayern Munich (at the Allianz Arena, no less), Drogba headed in an 88th-minute equalizer. The two teams held firm in extra time and the game headed to penalties. Not one to shy away from the big moment, Drogba stepped up when Chelsea needed him most and slotted home his penalty to give Chelsea the decisive 4-3 lead.
ullstein bild via Getty Imagesullstein bild
Stints abroad (2012-2014)
With an apparent fairytale ending sewed up in London, Drogba opted to make the move to China when his Chelsea contract expired in June 2012. His time with Shanghai Shenhua was largely anonymous (aside from the reported $290 thousand weekly paycheck). He made his debut in July 2012, but his short-lived tenure with the Chinese side ended by early 2013. Amid claims that Shanghai Shenhua had not paid Drogba, FIFA intervened on the player’s behalf and allowed a transfer to Galatasaray. In Turkey, Drogba won the Süper Lig title in May 2013.
Last Chelsea hurrah (2014-2015)
It looked like Drogba was done with Chelsea after his Champions League heroics in 2012, but he came back for a cameo in 2014 on a free transfer from Galatasaray. Now firmly on the back nine of his career, and with Diego Costa leading the line, Drogba played much more of a bit part in Chelsea’s 2014-15 campaign, scoring 7 goals. Nevertheless, Chelsea hoisted the Premier League trophy again and Drogba managed to leave Chelsea as a champion for good.
AFP/Getty ImagesADRIAN DENNIS
Move to MLS (2015-????)
In July 2015, the Montréal Impact signed Drogba to a Designated Player contract, allowing him to sign an 18-month contract without the whole amount counting against the team’s salary budget. He hit the ground running with the Major League Soccer side, tallying a hat trick in his first start for the Impact. En route to powering Montréal to the MLS Cup Playoffs, Drogba scored 11 goals in 11 games. The Impact eventually bowed out of the playoffs at the hands of Columbus Crew SC, but Drogba’s affect was irrefutable. However, on Jan. 6, 2016, rumors emerged of Drogba’s retirement. The Ivorian addressed the chatter on Twitter, saying he had “not yet announced my retirement.” Is a Chelsea return in the cards? Time will tell.