The Chelsea legend’s Champions League winning performance against Bayern Munich in 2012 remains his most remarkable, but which other games stood out?
Didier Drogba’s path to legendary status was like no other. He wasn’t a precocious youngster like Samuel Eto’o nor a supremely talented all-rounder like George Weah.
However, the Ivory Coast striker was a late bloomer who made a name for himself with his sheer hard work and tenacity.
He went on to become a legend for Chelsea as well as the Ivory Coast national team, scoring hugely remarkable goals for both sides.
In this slidelist, we’ll review the matches that helped the previously unknown West African striker attain legendary status among the continent’s greats.
Olympique Marseille vs Porto – 22/10/2003
It’s not often the case that a defeat would prove to be so important for one’s career, but so it proved for Didier Drogba when the French side hosted the Portuguese giants in their Group F Champions League encounter, which the visitors won 3-2.
The frontman impressed Jose Mourinho so much that the then Blues and Whites’ boss promised to sign him when he had the resources, and he fulfilled his pledge by going back for the forward less than a year later when at Chelsea.
The legend that is Drogba may never have come to be had the Portuguese manager not taken a gamble on the Ivorian, whose signing Roman Abramovich was said to have reservations about.
Chelsea vs Liverpool – 27/02/2005
While the forward went on to score nine goals in as many cup finals, it’d be an oversight to omit where it all began in his first final against Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
The goal itself was a scruffy effort from close range, however, it sent the Blues 2-1 up in extra-time, and they eventually claimed the League Cup with a 3-2 success.
Indeed, Drogba’s goal against Rafael Benitez’s team was to be an omen for his big-game impact in subsequent seasons.
Ivory Coast vs Egypt – 19/06/2005
In the eighth round of 2006 World Cup qualifiers, the Elephants hosted the Pharaohs knowing full well a win was imperative if they wanted to be the sole side from Group C to make it to the global showpiece.
Drogba came up trumps for the home side, netting a goal either side of half-time in a 2-0 success over the North African giants.
This victory was to prove important for the Ivorians, especially as they fell to a 3-2 defeat by Cameroon in the penultimate match of the ‘Group of Death’.
Ivory Coast eventually qualified at the expense of the much-fancied Indomitable Lions, and Egypt who went on to rule the continent three times between 2006 and 2010.
Chelsea vs Portsmouth – 15/05/2010
The 2010 FA Cup final presented Carlo Ancelotti’s side with an opportunity to claim the club’s first-ever Double in their history against a Pompey side that’d been victorious two years earlier.
Chelsea were made to sweat on the day at Wembley (Petr Cech saved a 54th-minute Kevin-Prince Boateng penalty) before emerging 1-0 victors.
The goal was scored by none other than Drogba, four minutes after Boateng’s failure from the spot, with a well-taken free-kick that beat David James.
Deservedly, the frontman, who was also the Premier League’s Golden Boot winner, was named Man of the Match.
Drogba’s goal made the West London club one of the then-seven outfits to achieve the feat (Manchester City became the eighth side in 2018/19), and one of four in the Premier League era.
Bayern Munich vs Chelsea – 19/05/2012
This was without a doubt Drogba’s greatest show of big-game dominance in a Chelsea shirt. Having scored in the 2012 FA Cup final against Liverpool a fortnight earlier (this made him the only man to score in four FA Cup deciders), he helped the Blues to their maiden Champions League triumph.
Roberto Di Matteo’s troops had fallen behind to a Thomas Muller header in the 83rd-minute, but the Ivory Coast star proved his mettle by leveling with two minutes of normal time to play with a powerful header from Juan Mata’s corner.
This took the game into extra-time, and despite Drogba clumsily conceding a penalty, his blushes were spared by Cech who saved from former Blue Arjen Robben to keep the score level and subsequently force penalties.
It was Chelsea’s man for the big occasion that stepped up to win them the Holy Grail after years of misfortune in Europe’s premier competition, shooting into the bottom corner with Manuel Neuer going the wrong way.
Having failed the side four years earlier in Moscow, Drogba more than made up for his dismissal in 2008 by lighting up the Allianz Arena in the greatest night in the club’s history.