I'll never forget the day that I heard you had officially joined Chelsea from Marseille. That was one of the most exciting summers I can remember. After reaching the semifinals of the Champions League, the club decided to spend heavily to reinforce the squad. While some were far more excited about adding players like Carvalho or Ferreira, or even a new manger in Mourinho, I was always fascinated by the raw ability you brought to the table. Players that could do everything you could just didn't exist, and I was ecstatic to see you leading us to new heights.
You'd miss a chunk of the next season with an abdominal issue, but in your time on the pitch you made it very clear what kind of skills you brought to the table. We won the Premier League title, our first of the recent run of sucess behind your amazing goal scoring. You were a huge part of us beating both Barcelona and Bayern Munich en route to a memorable semifinal versus Liverpool. Despite the loss, it was hard not to be excited for the future as a Chelsea fan.
You'd spend the next six seasons as probably the most feared center forward on the planet. Roman would add players to provide you with competition, but there was never really anyone who stood a chance at taking your job. No matter how great a pedigree your "successor" might have, they'd all quickly learn that they were second best when they arrived at the Bridge. FA Cups, Carling Cups, and Premier League titles were common occurrences in London now, largely due to your offensive prowess.
As last season came to a close though, it was clear that you were nearing the end. We'd still see flashes of the great Drogba we'd come to expect, but they were getting fewer and fewer as the months rolled by. We started the season really hoping for something out of Fernando Torres, as it was clear that you couldn't play every game for us like you used to. Your contract was coming up at the end of the year, and since you were turning 34 I think most of us expected this to be your last year in Blue. The biggest regret of any fan of yours was easily that we hadn't yet won the most coveted trophy in the sport. It was almost criminal that you'd be leaving Chelsea without having won the Champions League.
At the start of the year, most of us had high hopes for Chelsea. While aging, we still had lots of talented players and a promising young manager. We'd hit a speed bump in the first game against Stoke, but things looked generally good for the early part of the season. It was hard to not be optimistic that we'd finally get the Champions League trophy that you and your teammates so richly deserved. It didn't take long to see that all was not right though, and only a few months into the season the Premier League was already nearly out of reach.
Despite the poor League showing though, the Champions League still looked good. We'd head to Germany for round 5 with a win leaving us through to the knockouts. Things looked good, but a late collapse left us in an awful hole. We'd now head home for the game against Valencia, a loss would leave us out in the group stage for the first time since your arrival. The club was in turmoil, and things didn't look good.
You'd refuse to let us lose that night though, leading the charge as only you could. We'd dominate our Spanish foes that evening and see our way safely through to the next round of the competition. Nothing they could do would be able to cope with your game, the Valencia defense was lucky to keep it at only 3-0 in that one. It was only for one night, but the Drogs of old was back. We'd go on a run of good form following that huge win, and things were looking right again for Chelsea fans worldwide.
By the time the Champions League resumed in February, we'd be well out of the title race. We'd head into Napoli in an ugly run of form, and things looked pretty bleak again for Chelsea fans. We'd get beat badly that day, and only once before had a club recovered from a 3-1 1st leg deficit in the Champions League. It again looked bad, and this would be the end for our promising young manager.
I always held out hope though, because on your day there is still nobody on earth that can defend you. When we returned to the Bridge you wasted no time in getting Chelsea back in the tie. When you scored early on, Chelsea fans everywhere started to believe again. You'd continue to menace Napoli, and in extra time you'd make the play of the game in feeding Ivanovic for the winner. Again you'd lift Chelsea another step towards the elusive big ears.
We'd get through Benfica without too much incident, but next in our path were the unbeatable Barcelona. Nobody anywhere thought we had a chance in that tie, most thought we'd barely touch the ball. Well everyone was right on the second part, we didn't have much of the ball at all. You were a menace though, causing several close calls early on before netting a monstrous goal to put us ahead. Again, you'd lead us to do the unthinkable, leading us in our march towards the elusive Champions League. Another fantastic display in the 2nd leg in Spain, and you'd done more than your fair share in carrying us to the final.
That wasn't enough though, and you knew it. You'd been to a final before, that wasn't going to cement your legacy as the greatest center forward of this generation. You needed that trophy, and after a 6th place finish so did your club. When hope was lost in the 83rd minute, you'd quickly restore it by burying the only real chance we'd had all night. By the time you walked up to the penalty spot, we all knew what was coming. There was just no way Didier Drogba was going to be denied tonight, we all knew that ball was in the back of the net before it was ever kicked.
This was easily the most up and down season I've ever watched. The lows were unthinkable, but the highs were unbelievable. None of this would have been possible without your undeniable will, without you we'd be missing this competition next year and still seeking that 1st Champions League title. I still imagine you'll be leaving this summer, but now it just feels ok. I came to the realization that you'd be leaving long ago, but seeing you lift Europe's biggest prize makes me feel at peace with it.
I'll never forget the sight of you running off in celebration after winning us this trophy. I'll never get over the fact that it took a superhuman run of games like this for some to appreciate the greatness you've brought for the last 8 years. There's rarely a moment in sports that truly bring tears to my eyes, but the sight of you holding the cup was easily enough to have them flowing. You've been everything to this club, and it's a real shame that so many fans and members of the media just haven't been able to appreciate the unbelievable things you've brought to us all. While I truly hope you are back with us next year I can at least feel at peace if you aren't. That night in Munich will be with me for the rest of my life, and it never would have happened without you. For that and so much else, all I can do is say thank you.