The Leader Board
feature Sun 11 Mar 2018
Today is Didier Drogba’s 40th birthday and to mark it, we have taken a look at the times the great man captained Chelsea during his two spells with the Blues…
It is hardly surprising that the man who helped stop a civil war in his homeland, Ivory Coast, was called upon to skipper his beloved Chelsea on various occasions.
Of course, John Terry was the club captain throughout Drogba’s nine seasons at Stamford Bridge, and for the entirety of the striker’s first spell it was another of our greatest ever players, Frank Lampard, who assisted JT.
When Drogba returned in the summer of 2014 for one last hurrah, it was he who deputised on the very few occasions Terry did not start in what turned out to be a brilliant, two-trophy season.
But you have to go back to September 2010 for the first time Drogba wore the armband as a Chelsea player. He had long been captain of his national team, including at the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals, and as an important dressing-room presence throughout his time at Stamford Bridge, it was obvious why he was made captain when both Terry and Lampard were injured for a home fixture against Blackpool.
'It's fantastic, I've been here for six years, this is my seventh,' the then 32-year-old smiled after an easy 4-0 victory kept our winning start to the season going.
'It is always better to have them [Terry and Lampard] on board and on the pitch, and I want them to come back quick, even if it was an honour and a pleasure to be captain today.'
Drogba didn’t have to wait long to lead the team out again, with Terry this time rested and Lampard still out injured. Spartak Moscow were our opponents at Stamford Bridge in November 2010 and it was another handsome home win for Carlo Ancelotti’s Blues, with Drogba netting a penalty in a 4-1 success.
'I am proud of being captain because I have been here seven years and have given everything for this club. It is nice, especially at Stamford Bridge in front of all the fans and in a Champions League game, but it is better to win. John doesn't need to ask for the armband back, it is his!’
Drogba captained us a further four times towards the end of that month, and it would not be for over a year until he did so again. That was for the defeat in Napoli when Terry was out, and Lampard surprisingly omitted. The result was a bad one, but Drogba’s performance in the reverse fixture helped trigger the remarkable comeback that served as the launchpad for our Champions League triumph.
Towards the end of the striker’s eighth season at the club, he captained us for an eighth time when we beat Wigan Athletic 2-1 at Stamford Bridge. By that point, European and Cup commitments had taken precedence in our season, and after we had lifted the trophy with the big ears in Munich, he decided to call time on his Chelsea career.
But Drogba was not finished. After spells in China and Turkey, the man who first brought him to west London, Jose Mourinho, did so again in the summer of 2014 to add strength to our attacking unit. Though Diego Costa was clearly first choice up front, Drogba would still have a critical role to play on, and off, the pitch.
‘If I was a kid player and I played with this guy on my side, what more could I wish for?’ Mourinho said after Drogba had skippered us for the first time since our return, in a League Cup win at Shrewsbury.
‘For the kids it must be a privilege and they have to learn by example.’
Drogba’s explanation was simple: ‘I don’t need the captain’s armband to support and to push.’
And that was certainly the case as we roared to another Premier League title, Drogba’s fourth, as well as the League Cup. He was also captain for both our FA Cup games in 2014/15.
When he announced on the eve of our final game of that campaign that he would be leaving the club once more, making Drogba captain for the day made sense. He led the champions out (pictured top) with his children, and when he exited stage right midway through the first half, he was chaired off the pitch by team-mates as Stamford Bridge serenaded a true legend one last time.
JT took the captaincy for the remainder of the game and lifted the trophy after it with the Ivorian. His words later that day summed up the feeling towards Drogba.
‘The armband was a natural thing to happen but when you’ve done what he’s done in the game, and at Chelsea, he deserves every accolade and the send-off he got,’ Terry said. ‘The fans were unbelievable and it’s ended on a nice note. Didier knows how much they love him.’