It’s a bit of an understatement to say that Didier Drogba was a top striker. The Ivorian was an elite hitman who was responsible for some of the biggest moments in Chelsea history, and plenty of those came in cup finals.
When it comes to stepping up and handling the pressure of the biggest stage, there’s perhaps nobody who did it better than Drogba, who made Wembley Stadium his playpen year after year after year.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane and have a look at his dominant record in finals for the Blues.
2005 League Cup Final vs Liverpool
In his first season at Chelsea, Drogba wasted little time in showing the world that he was ready to compete on the biggest stage. His first final was in the League Cup against Liverpool, in which he bagged a crucial late goal
The game went to extra time after the two sides played out a 1-1 draw, but it was Drogba who separated the two teams as he fumbled home probably the ugliest goal you’re ever likely to see. But hey, a goal’s a goal.
Mateja Kežman added a third and gave Chelsea some breathing room, and despite a goal from Antonio Núñez, the Blues held on to give Drogba his first taste of silverware at Stamford Bridge.
2007 League Cup Final vs Arsenal
The arch-nemesis of Arsenal, Drogba was all over the Gunners in the League Cup final in 2007, bagging both goals in an impressive 2-1 win.
Theo Walcott gave Arsenal the lead, but Drogba, who was rocking some sweet braids, tied things up soon after as he beat the offside trap to fire through Manuel Almunia. Game on.
The game was marred by a near-death experience for John Terry, whose dedication to win a header saw him feel the full force of Abou Diaby’s boot, but Drogba again stepped up and ensured his captain’s sacrifice was not in vain.
The Ivorian leapt highest to meet a cross from Arjen Robben and fire Chelsea ahead with just six minutes remaining, and Terry made it a perfect day by getting discharged from hospital and coming back to the stadium to celebrate the victory. What a man.
2007 FA Cup Final vs Manchester United
The 2007 FA Cup final was the first to be held at the new Wembley Stadium, so obviously Drogba had to mark his territory with a goal.
Chelsea and Manchester United played out a cagey affair which went to extra time after a goalless 90 minutes, and it took Drogba until the 116th minute to make the breakthrough. Some brilliant one-touch passing with partner in crime Frank Lampard gifted the Ivorian with a free run on goal, and he dinked the ball over the onrushing Edwin van der Sar to give Chelsea the trophy.
It was his 33rd goal of an outstanding campaign, and it marked the beginning of a reign of sheer dominance at Wembley.
2008 League Cup Final vs Tottenham
New Wembley’s first FA Cup final was a good day for Drogba, but the stadium’s first League Cup final the following season wasn’t exactly the best. Tottenham Hotspur picked up a 2-1 win over Chelsea, although Drogba still got himself on the scoresheet.
A delicate free kick from around 25 yards gave Chelsea a first-half lead and made Drogba the first player to ever score in three League Cup finals, but that’s as good as it got for the Blues. Dimitar Berbatov’s penalty levelled things up, before Jonathan Woodgate’s extra-time header took the trophy away from Chelsea.
Finishing as runners-up was nothing new for Chelsea that year, who also came up short against Manchester United in the Community Shield, Premier League and Champions League (the latter being the first final in which Drogba failed to score for Chelsea).
2009 FA Cup Final vs Everton
After losing against Spurs and getting sent off against United in his last two finals, Drogba had a point to prove when he faced Everton in the 2009 FA Cup final.
Louis Saha’s opener after 25 seconds set a new record for the fastest FA Cup final goal and gave Everton a lead, but Drogba needed 20 minutes to fire his side level. Florent Malouda’s looped high into the box, and the Ivorian steamrolled through the unsuspecting Joleon Lescott to head the ball into the back of the net.
It was Lampard who proved to be the match winner on that day as he powered home a strike from range, and Chelsea could have had three if goalline technology was around back then. Unfortunately for Malouda, he was denied a spectacular goal, but lifting the trophy probably made up for that.
2010 FA Cup Final vs Portsmouth
What’s that? Another FA Cup final at Wembley for Drogba to dominate?
After winning the Premier League, Chelsea were heavy favourites to complete their first Double as they came up against relegated Portsmouth. Avram Grant’s side made life hard for the Blues, but they simply couldn’t stop Drogba.
Drogba had threatened to open the scoring on a number of occasions, but after Pompey missed a penalty, the Ivorian went down the other end and powered home another free kick which made the most satisfying thud as it ricocheted in off the post to seal a 1-0 win.
2012 FA Cup Final vs Liverpool
By the time the 2012 FA Cup final came around, speculation was rife that Drogba would be leaving the Bridge at the end of the season. His semi-final and final appearances looked set to be his final outings at Wembley, and you just knew he was going to go out with a bang.
The semi-final saw Drogba bully William Gallas to thunder home that outrageous strike, and he was up to his usual tricks once more in the final against Liverpool.
Ramires gave Chelsea an early lead, and Drogba doubled it after the break as he collected another Lampard pass and fired through Martin Škrtel’s legs and into the back of the net. Andy Carroll pulled one back and came close to snatching an equaliser, only for an outrageous save from Petr ?ech to ensure the trophy went back to the Bridge.
2012 Champions League Final vs Bayern Munich
When we think of Chelsea ? Bayern…
We think of the Didier Drogba final of 2012!
The bullet header and the ice cool penalty to win the Champions League for the Blues ?? pic.twitter.com/H6dSsG58vl
— ?? Ja! Watch the Bundesliga live on BT Sport?? (@btsportfootball) December 16, 2019
Here we are. The biggest final of Drogba’s career. He’d pretty much carried Chelsea all the way to the 2012 Champions League final, but even the most optimistic of fan knew he would need a miracle to lead them past Bayern Munich. Well, Drogba gave them exactly that.
It was his header which saw Chelsea pull level late on, but he threatened to spoil things by giving away a clumsy penalty. However, after ?ech denied Robben, it quickly became clear that we were watching something special.
With the final kick of the penalty shoot-out, and his final kick before leaving, Drogba clipped the ball into the bottom corner and brought Roman Abramovich the one trophy he had always dreamed of.
‘The greatest night in the history of Chelsea Football Club’.
For more from ?Tom Gott, follow him on ?Twitter!