Didier Drogba isn’t done playing just quite yet. The now 39-year-old Chelsea legend announced possibly the final move of his illustrious playing career on Wednesday. As rumored a few weeks ago, he’s headed to Phoenix Rising FC, where he will also become part-owner. He is the first ever player-owner in football, according to the Telegraph.
BREAKING: The King is Back! ⚽@didierdrogba has signed for @PHXRisingFC #RaiseYourGame #Drogba2PHX— USL (@USL) April 12, 2017
Full Story: https://t.co/MEZkrkEANY pic.twitter.com/JKygChAdoO
While Phoenix Rising may sound like the name of the antagonist team in a bad Slapshot sequel, it’s actually a franchise in the United Soccer League, American soccer’s second division. According to the New York Times, Drogba turned down offers from France, England, Brazil, and even a big money move to China to pursue this next big adventure.
His reasoning for joining his new club is simple. It’s a new challenge, and he’s all about finding and accomplishing new challenges.
“I believe I can help them reach M.L.S. I have always liked challenges.”
-Didier Drogba; source: New York Times
Phoenix is currently one of 12 cities bidding for entry into Major League Soccer, the league in which Drogba just spent two seasons with the Montreal Impact. Each of the 12 cities have pitched their proposals to MLS, with the league expected to decide on the next round of entrants in the coming years. Phoenix is the largest city in America without an MLS club and Drogba’s name and clout is surely a nice bonus to their bid.
Another aspect of this move that may fly under the radar is that Didier plans to acquire his coaching badges as well, to open up options for him in the future.
The appeal of Phoenix to him, then, was that it provided a chance to test the waters. He will complete his coaching badges during the final act of his playing career; he could yet choose a career in management. More likely, though, he will investigate roles in the back office, probably as a sporting director, when he does retire. “This is a transition for me,” he said. “It is time to prepare for the next stage of my life, to get everything ready for the next phase.”
-source: New York Times
There’s no telling where that next phase could be once he’s completed his on-field career. It could be continuing that journey to MLS with Phoenix or maybe, possibly a trip back home to a certain London club? For what it’s worth, they didn’t ignore their former striker’s announcement.
Good luck, Didier! https://t.co/tWzaYJ82Hv— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 12, 2017
Only time will tell whether or not Drogba ever makes it back to Stamford Bridge in an official capacity. What we do know is that he’s off to conquer yet another challenge in his amazing career. If his track record is any indication, it should be a matter of when, not if he accomplishes his goal.