Drogba is to leave Chelsea after eight years, but he leaves on a high after a talismanic show in Munich etched his name into the club's history.
Top Drog: Not only was his name a dream for creative headline journalists, his talent also reaffirmed a common suggestion that he is one of the greatest centre forwards of the modern Premier League era.
The moment was the 19th of May, 2012. It was highly anticipated as Drogba's last competitive game for Chelsea before leaving as a free agent in the Summer. The stage was set, on the greatest of them all. Bayern Munchen's Allianz Arena, a modern, architectually beautiful stadium and on that Saturday night, a cauldron of expectation.
Thomas Muller's 83rd minute goal had looked to have edged a thrilling encounter as Jupps Heynckes, Bayern's manager, looked to play out the remaining seven minutes of regular time. Munich had enjoyed the majority of possession and all the statistics had suggested they were worthy winners, having had far greater chances and 16 corners to nil up until the 87th minute. However, as this season has highlighted, across Europe, statistics count for nothing in a world where all that matters is the score.
In that one corner that Chelsea won, two minutes from the end of regular time, an inswinging Frank Lampard delivery met an onrushing Didier Drogba. What happened next would live in the memories of Chelsea fans forever more. A bullet header - there is no other way to describe it - from an admirably tight angle could not be haulted even by Manuel Neuer, widely considered one of the best goalkeepers in the world, whom could only aid it into his own net - such was its power.
At that moment, the momentum of the game swung. Heynckes, having taken off Muller immediately after his goal, was now on the back foot, with little room for improvisation.
It was quite possibly fate that decided the Winners of the Champions League to be Chelsea, surviving two legs against Barcelona in what was labelled the 'epitomy of anti-football' and to go 120 minutes having only conceded one goal against a talented Bayern Munich side, who, on their night, could have easily turned it into a rout. Mario Gomez was the most noticeable disappointment, his skills were unable to be equalled by the finish required. Arjen Robben's extra time penalty miss was, ultimately, the pinnacle of confirmation that the trophy was to be Chelsea's.
As the soul destroying whistle for penalties blew, it was perhaps inconceivable to some that Chelsea, and Drogba would have the opportunity to take the penalty that could win it such was the reputation of German teams with regards to their penalty taking abilities. Particularly as Chelsea missed their first, with Neuer once again proving his credentials.
Yet, as Bastien Schweinstiger, one of the best midfielders in the world and a confident pernalty taker, stepped up, his hesitancy in the run up, in order to decieve Cech, went against him as his penalty rebounded off the post.
The impending, potentially winning penalty was to be taken by Drogba. With Abramovich watching on, engrossed as the ensuing moments could secure his footballing fantasy and the motivation for fuelling the club since 2002, Drogba looked the coolest man on the planet, making Usain Bolt look like a nervous wreck, as he sent Neuer the wrong way and his penalty nestled in the bottom left corner.
It secured Drogba's name in Chelsea fans memory unanimously, etched in a way of pleasurable forgiveness. He was the man who had soothed away the pain of Moscow despite being the villain of the night back in 2008. He was the man who had saved their Champions League title with a near last minute equaliser, and he was the man, that, despite his over-dramatizations on the pitch was undeniably one of Chelsea's greatest modern era players.
It is a great shame that Drogba has decided not to renew his contract at Stamford Bridge. His rollercoaster style eight years at Chelsea left a lot to be desired for at times, however, once again the statistics prove little once again. Despite his lack of goals some years, his physicality has proven difficult to handle for many of the mightiest defences. At times, Drogba was unplayable, even against the warrior that is Carlos Puyol, he was difficult to shackle.
He is the mould of a world class centre forward. Arguably the best of the best in past seasons, and one position that Chelsea will find difficult to fill the void of. Romelu Lukaku was, at 18, labelled the 'next Didier Drogba' on his arrival to London in January, but has since lashed out at Andre Villas-Boas, his former boss, and has had little game time.
Drogba's theatric's at some points attracted its fair share of critics. A man of Drogba's build should not have been going down as easily as he did at times. It was the negative side to his game which began to, laterally, over-shadow his credentials as a bullish, physical and troublesome forward - a build of which has historically provided defences problems throughout the modern era.
Though, he did manage to salvage that reputation back with the revival which began following Andre Villas Boas's dismissal and under Di Matteo, like the whole Chelsea squad, looked a different player.
His inability to combine with Fernando Torres meant that he would, under Di Matteo, be the figurehead of the Chelsea attack with two wingers offering support, yet, at his unplayable best, Drogba could consume two centre backs with ease such was his physical attributes. The preferement over Torres gave him some vigour and he returned to his previous best, somewhat too late to rescue their ailing league form, but enough to secure next season in Europe to defend their crown and the FA Cup.
In reality, after a £24 million move from Marseille as one of Mourinho's first big marquee signings, Drogba has definitively paid back his price. Even at 34, his stock would still be considerably higher than many younger players. He, much like a fine wine, gets better with age.
The Drog in his territory: Drogba loves scoring at Wembley, and bowed out with another goal to cap a sensational final season in London.
Not only did Drogba ensure Champions League glory for Chelsea with his last kick for them, Drogba also became the first man to score in four FA Cup finals, such is his now ended love affair with the new Wembley. Eight goals there in as many appearances was signed off as his latest ensured Chelsea won the FA Cup in a European-Domestic double.
The province of Guangdong, or municipality of Shanghai, China appears to be Drogba's next destination in an increasing trend of Eastern countries offering lucrative monetary offers to Western based players reaching the twilight phase of their careers. Drogba's case is somewhat contradictive of that, he still oozes class which is difficult to equal, many would argue he is taking this step a season too soon, but, then again, he has won everything he could with Chelsea over his eight years there, with the most prized one showing there's life in the old Drog yet.
So, as he departs, we say au revoir to an enigmatic figure of the Premier League's recent time. A reliable goalscorer, powerful and ultimately heroic in the eyes of Chelsea, whose eight year stint was tinged with accusations of simulation, a sad overtone for what was a magnificent time spent in England. 157 goals in 342 appearances is a fair return on his contribution to the side.
It was the perfect end, a man of the match performances earned in the Allianz Arena, in the greatest night of Chelsea's recent history propelled him to the echelons of Chelsea Greats'. He salvaged a defeated side and delivered the elusive prize which Abramovich oh so dearly dreamt of. Nice work, Didier.