Didier Drogba: A history of the man, the match and the shirts that made him
Striker Didier Drogba is an undisputed footballing legend. One of the best African-born footballers of all time, he has represented his country and played (and won) in leagues all over world.
Drogba first joined Premier League side Chelsea in July 2004 from French side Olympique de Marseille. He then left London after nine years to play for Galatasaray SK, but made his victorious return just a year later in 2014.
Throughout his career, Drogba has been well-known for his shirt number switches with fellow players and the incredible career statistics that prove his domination in any league he tries his hand – or feet – at.
Who is Didier Drogba?
Born Didier Yves Drogba Tébily on 11 March 1978, Drogba hails from the Ivory Coast but moved to France aged five years old.
Drogba started his footballing career in 1993 at Levallois. After moving to Chelsea in 2004 for a then-recording breaking £24 million fee, Drogba helped the team to their first league title in 50 years, then the next season added another to the trophy cabinet. In March 2012, Drogba became the first African player to score more than 100 goals in the Premier League. He finished out the year by scoring an 88th minute equaliser and a winning penalty in the Champions League AND scored a goal to help win the FA cup against Liverpool. After leaving Chelsea in 2013 for Galatasaray SK, Drogba made a heroes return in 2014 to Chelsea – and Mourinho – to reclaim his shirt and set all new records for the league and for himself.
Drogba isn’t just a sportsman though, he’s a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador and a philanthropist that raises awareness for global issues. Making time in his career to support social justice issues, now Drogba has retired from the sport but set up the Didier Drogba Foundation in 2007 and continues to work alongside good causes.
What shirts has Drogba worn over the years?
When Drogba first joined Chelsea in 2004, he was given the number 15 shirt, but traded it in for the number 11 early on – a shirt number usually dedicated to the left winger, but Drogba made it popular as a strikers shirt too – after Drogba left the club, the shirt was filled by another player.
After his return in 2014, Drogba reclaimed the number 15 shirt from Mohamed Salah, who traded in for the number 17 jersey (since Eden Hazard had just left the club). Scoring 104 goals in 254 appearances for Chelsea, Drogba is one of the best Chelsea strikers of all time, so it’s only natural that he would also take the number 11 shirt in 2014 before fellow Chelsea player Oscar moved to number 8.
The most popular shirts of his career
As for the shirts themselves, the most popular designs take on the minimalism Chelsea is known for, the 2006/07 Chelsea Away shirt embodies the clean white with iconic blue shoulder stripes.
The number 11 2007/08 shirt was the first season Drogba switched to the number 11 shirt. Marking one of the first times a striker had taken the all-important number usually reserved for left wingers, Drogba set a precedent followed by the likes of Neymar.
From his second season at the club, Drogba’s 2006/07 number 15 Chelsea FC shirt is one of the most well-known editions because it marks the second league win for the side and marks a continuation of the success Drogba had with the club.
Didier Drogba: A timeline
A quick timeline of Drogba’s professional footballing career:
11th March 1978 – Didier Yves Drogba Tébily is born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
1983 – Moved to France
1993 – He started his career at second-division Levallois, just outside Paris
1997-98 – Moved to Le Mans FC
2002 – Joined first league Olympique de Marseille where he scored 19 goals in 35 domestic matches and started his international career
2004 – Started his career at Chelsea and won the Premier League
2007 – Set up the Didier Drogba Foundation
January 2013 – Left Chelsea for Istanbul’s Galatasaray SK
2014 – Returned to Chelsea for a one-year contract and retired from international football
2015 – Left Chelsea for Montreal Impact, a Major League Soccer team in North America
2017 – Joined Pheonix Rising in the United Soccer League
2018 – Retired from professional football
Didier Drogba isn’t just a Chelsea legend, he is a footballing star to be admired with his endless efforts to improve the lives of people in his country at the same time as becoming the first player to score a Champions League hat-trick. Drogba changed the game for the better and switched up the expectations of a striker in Premier League for good.For all your retro Chelsea shirt needs (and any other team), have a look at our range of vintage football shirts.