Didier Drogba was presented with a commemorative edition of Chelsea Magazine at Cobham this week, after fans voted him our best ever player.
It was not just any presentation though, the opportunity to meet Didier at our training ground had been bought in the auction at the recent Annual Lunch, held at Stamford Bridge, and was won by Tubbs Rooprah, who brought his son along, as well as arranging for children from Great Ormond Street Hospital to take part in the visit.
For Drogba, who is back training with us during the Chinese off-season as he prepares for the African Cup of Nations in January, it is a humbling award to receive.
‘For me it’s an honour and it’s so special because for foreign players to come to England and receive this prize, at Chelsea, means a lot,’ he said. ‘I’ve spent eight fantastic years here where I was learning every day, and for me it is fantastic. This vote for me shows I passed the test after eight years of learning, and finally I am graduated!
‘This still feels like home, and today I am a host, and it’s great to see people still remember and appreciate me. It’s really nice.’
Tubbs was delighted to be a part of the occasion, and to be able to help others. ‘I hear so much about the work of the Chelsea Foundation and Great Ormond Street so when we got the prize I made sure that we took the opportunity to give something back,’ he said. ‘I’ve always felt that there is something I can do for these organisations and to see the kids’ faces when they met Didier was fantastic. It’s made my day.
‘I just wanted to give something back to communities and children in need at the same time. I felt it was more important to have kids who are not in the position to be with someone like Didier Drogba; it was more heartfelt for me to give this to these guys.’
One of the youngsters who met Didier, Stephen Farkye, could not believe his luck.
‘It was really exciting to meet Didier. I think he is an amazing footballer and he is my hero,’ he said.
After receiving the award and speaking with his audience, Didier provided the group with a short tour of the main Cobham building, before sitting down to discuss his recognition.
‘I’m taking it home and it is going on the wall,’ he smiled. ‘It really means something to me, it’s very important. After all that we did with the Champions League, and after last season as well, a strange season where we didn’t do well in the league, but we won the Champions League and all the emotions we had, it was a crazy season. It could have ended badly but looking back, wow, just wow.
‘It showed just how mature the players became because Roberto Di Matteo gave us control and responsibility, and we took control of our destiny. It nearly happened under Avram Grant in 2008, it was very similar, and this shows how mature and strong this team is.
‘I still feel a part of Chelsea, even if I am not here. My son plays here!
‘After eight years, the best of my career, so far, all the big trophies, the big moments, were here, even though I had a successful year at Marseille before that. It’s easy to have one successful year, but to have eight is an achievement.’
Since switching west London for Shanghai Shenhua, Drogba has continued to find the net with regularity, playing alongside former Blue Nicolas Anelka.
‘China is good, I love Shanghai. I scored eight goals in 10 games, I think, it’s not bad for someone who didn’t have a pre-season, straight from holidays to the games, but it’s a good experience and I want to see what I can do with a good pre-season,’ he said.
‘Nico is good too, I was really happy to see him there and I think he was happy too. He’s created five or six of my goals, so it’s like being back in 2010!’