While we all recover from 3 weekends of blue seas, it is worth a minute or two to remind ourselves, that, pound for pound, these were probably the best 20 odd days in football that one could hope to see.
And if these weeks were blockbusters, then there was only one superstar. One week, he was a mere bystander as the Mancunians battled it out in a climax that Hollywood wont dare script any better. The other two games were his as he stamped his authority, the only way he knows.
Didier Drogba is one of a kind. The kind of player that makes you think that it’s probably best that he was created and god broke the mould. Whether one supports Chelsea or not, Drogba is one who gets people jumping out of their seats. He has an eye for the poacher’s goal and mixes it up with the downright outrageous.
When he arrived at Stamford Bridge, no one had heard of Lady Gaga, Rihana or Adele, LeBron James was still finding his feet in the NBA, and Schumacher was still the king of F1. Come to think of all this, it has been a long time.
In the 8 years, Drogba has gone from being the imperious to the mercurial. Somedays, he shows up, and the rest is history. Some other days, he just needs to show up and the result is guaranteed. Out of a possible 8 FA Cup winners medals, Drogba and gang have managed 4. What is more astounding is that the man puts on his shooting boots for every finals. This year he managed the unique record of having scored in 4 different FA cup finals. It’s possible to say that the man thrives in big match situations, and does make every opportunity count. Add to this the 3 premier league winners’ medals, and the other honours that he has bagged for club and country, and you have the complete footballer.
But for all the honours, and all the accolades, the final piece of the jigsaw was in place. His first flirtation with European competition was in 2003-04, his breakthrough year with Marseille. Sadly, Fabien Barthez saw red in the game, and Drogba was as anonymous as the rest of the team.
The champions league of 2011-12 was as unpredictable as it gets. Numerous times, the blues were battered into a corner, and time and again, they pulled out a rabbit. Drogba, in many epitomizes Chelsea. Fearless, gritty, yet enigmatic at times, it is both intriguing yet irritating to see them promise and falter. Regardless, he chipped in with crucial strikes in 3 out of the 4 knockout phases. Lionel Messi might have packed more galleries and scored a bucketful of goals, but as we speak, the Argentine genius might yet end the season with no silverware. Such are the margins in football, and no Chelsea fan be reminded of that fateful night in Moscow, when Terry lost his balance, and Chelsea, their chance with history.
Interestingly, Terry was a replacement for Drogba who was originally supposed to take the penalty. He would have been there, the only problem was that he decided to go after Vidic, a situation that the referee didn’t take too kindly. Chelsea played a bit with 10 men, lost their edge, and got unlucky. A mythological analogy, if one may allow the comparison, is the story of Achilles. Half mortal and half god, Achilles was the darling of all the gods, till he went and desecrated Apollo’s temple.
Drogba till he shot himself in his own Achilles heel on that night in Moscow, and many wondered that he might be the Achilles of European football. Munich, was his finest hour, and few, if any gave Chelsea a chance. It was at the Allianz, they were playing Bayern, for all practicality, a home team. Chelsea have faced problems on and off the pitch all year long. A sacked manager and slumping performances hardly oozed belief. Yet, they hung on, hustled and fought for every yard. As I watch Drogba run up and slot the ball into the bottom corner, I can’t help but wonder, that this is the Cinderella story of the year. One without a Ballerina with shoes made out of ice or fur, but an Ivorian with a heart of a lion. Salut, Drogba, Salut.