Didier Drogba has revealed how former coach Jose Mourinho saved his career at Chelsea.
The Ivory Costa international only announced his retirement from professional football last night and admits his Chelsea career could have ended sooner.
Drogba joined Chelsea from Marseille and the meteoric rise from France’s second division to the bright lights of London left him scared.
But he has revealed a conversation with Mourinho inspired him to become one ofthe club’s biggest legends.
“The only time I doubted myself was the time I moved from Marseille to Chelsea,” he told the Sun.
“Two and a half years earlier I was a sub in the French second division.
“And then, boom, suddenly I was at a club who became one of the biggest in the world. A new country, new culture…and I was like ‘hmmm, is not all too fast for me? Can I make it here? Is it too much?’
“I was a bit scared to fail and after my first difficult year at Chelsea I spoke to Jose Mourinho and told him ‘I’m not happy here. Maybe this is not for me and I need to leave.’
“But he was saying ‘no, you have to stay. I will help you.’
“Everything had been so comfortable for me in France and after that first season in England I was looking for that comfort zone again, which meant going back to Marseille and being the only striker.
“And then I heard the manager saying something really interesting to all the players.
“He said ‘if you want to be the only king then go back to the team where you were playing before and score 100 goals.
“But here at Chelsea there are 22 kings, so you have to accept that and work together. Or you go’.
“That’s when I understood that Chelsea were giving me the challenge to go beyond what I had already done.
“That’s when I knew I needed to improve and it’s why I became the player I was.
“It was a special relationship with Mourinho and it really boosted my confidence when he would tell me ‘I would go to war with you’.
“Coming from the guy who had won the Champions League and was at the top of the English game really meant a lot.”