Didier Drogba, the Chelsea and Ivory Coast legend, has announced that he has called time on his impressive international career.
Drogba was an emerging 21-year-old at Guingamp when he won his first cap for Les Elephants against South Africa in September 2002, and scored the first of his 65 goals in a 3-0 win over Cameroon the following February. He went on to collect a total of 104 caps for his country, and played a leading role as they qualified for three World Cup Finals and finished runners-up in the Africa Cup of Nations twice.
“It’s with much sadness that I’ve decided to retire from international football,” he confirmed on Friday. “I’m proud to have captained this team for eight years. I can’t convey enough thanks to the fans for all the love and support during these years. All my goals, all my caps, all our victories are for you. I owe much gratitude to my team-mates, and I wish the players all much success for the future.”
Having left Guingamp for Marseille in 2003, Drogba soon saw his reputation rocket and, after just one year at the Stade Velodrome, Jose Mourinho paid around £24million to lure him to Chelsea. At Stamford Bridge he established himself as one of the best forwards in world football, helping the Blues win three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and, in 2012, the UEFA Champions League.
Spells at Shanghai Shenhua and Galatasaray followed, and this summer, he was reunited with Mourinho when the Portuguese coach offered him an emotional return to Chelsea. Although the 36-year-old is expected to play little more than a back-up role during his second spell in the English capital, his decision to call time on his international career could well result in him taking another leading role.