Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba announced his retirement on Wednesday, calling time on a 20-year career in which the bullish centre forward won four Premier League titles and the 2012 Champions League.
Drogba, who had been playing in the United States for Phoenix Rising, had two spells at Chelsea, scoring 164 goals in 381 games having spearheaded the west London club's revival under owner Roman Abramovich.
"When I think of the last 20 years of my professional career, looking at this picture can't make me more proud of what I have achieved as a player bu most importanly how this journey has shaped me as man," Drogba wrote on Twitter and Instagram, while including a photo of him playing as a boy.
Drogba, 40, began his career at French side Le Mans in 1998, but did not play top-tier football until he was 23 when he was signed by Guingamp in 2002.View this post on Instagram1989 or where it all started!! When I think of the last 20 years of my professional Career, looking at this picture can’t make me more proud of what I’ve achieved as a player but most importantly how this journey as shaped me as a man. If anyone tells you your dreams are too big, just say thank you and work harder and smarter to turn them into reality. #alwaysbelieve I wanna thank all the players, managers, teams and fans that I have met and made this journey one of a kind!!! Also a huuuuge thank you and love to my family ♥️, my Personal Team for supporting me all my career during all the ups and downs no matter what. Looking forward to the next Chapter and hoping God will Bless me as much as he did for my football career 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 DD11 1989 Là où tout à commencé !! Quand je pense aux 20 dernières années de ma carrière professionnelle, regarder cette photo de ma première licence, ne peut que me rendre plus fier de ce que j’ai accompli en tant que joueur mais plus important encore, comment cette aventure à fait de moi l’homme que je suis aujourd’hui. Si quelqu’un vous dit un jour que vos rêves sont trop grands, acquiescez et travaillez plus dur plus intelligemment pour les rendre réalité!!!! J’aimerai remercier tous les joueurs, coachs, équipes, et supporters, que j’ai rencontré et ont fait de cette carrière un moment très spécial. Un grand merci du fond du cœur à toute ma famille, mon « équipe personnelle » de m’avoir soutenu durant toute ma carrière, dans les bons comme dans les mauvais moments. Hâte de démarrer le prochain chapitre en espérant que Dieu me bénisse une fois de plus comme il l’a fait pendant toute ma carrière 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 DD11 #Dunkerque #Abbeville #Tourcoing #Vannes #LevalloisPerret #Lemans #Guingamp #Marseille #Chelsea #Shanghai #istanbul #Montreal #phoenix @usldunkerqueofficiel @levalloisfootball @lemansfc.officiel @eaguingamp @olympiquedemarseille @chelseafc @shanghaishenhua @galatasaray @impactmontreal @phxrisingfc
He moved to Olympique de Marseille in 2003 and a year later was signed by Chelsea where he became the attacking focal point of the team under Jose Mourinho and helped the club win their first top flight English title in 50 years.
He went on to win three Premier League titles in his first eight years at Chelsea as well as four FA Cups and two League Cups.
His first spell in west London ended on a high as he scored the winning penalty in the Champions League final shootout against Bayern Munich having also equalised with a thumping header to force extra time.
He had spells in China and Turkey before returning to Chelsea where he won a fourth Premier League title and a third League Cup, leaving the club as their fourth highest scorer of all time.
Drogba played two seasons with MLS club Montreal Impact, leading the Canadian side to the Eastern Conference finals in 2015.
Drogba, who made than 100 appearances for the Ivory Coast and was voted African footballer of the year twice, ended his playing days with Phoenix Rising where he was a player-owner.
"It's the best way to end, helping some young talent to develop," Drogba told the BBC.
"To give something back to the game was the best way to finish as I have learned so much in the game."