11th March – Didier Drogba

Chelsea have been regulars in the knockout stages of the Champions League for a long time and owe a lot of this to striker Didier Drogba and he will forever go down as one of their greatest ever players.

Hitting over 100 Premier League goals and being the club’s fourth highest goalscorer of all time just shows his worth but now at the age of 37 he is still causing problems and will have a say on how Chelsea do. With the League Cup already in the bag, they are still looking for Premier League and European glory.

Drogba began his career in France with Le Mans but he didn’t get off to a great start, struggling with injuries. But in 1999 he was part of the first team and impressed with seven goals, however in the following season the injuries returned and he lost his place in the team. But in his final season he scored five times in 21 games and was signed by Ligue 1 side Guingamp halfway through the campaign. He made a vital contribution in keeping the team in the top division and would then lead the club to their highest ever finish by hitting 17 goals in 34 games.

Drogba Guingamp

After just one full season he moved again joining Marseille. This would be a great move as he scored a lot of goals, with 19 in the league and 11 in Europe. But this would be his only season at the club as he joined Chelsea for £24 million. In his first season he did well, scoring 16 with his most important coming in the final of the League Cup but also adding 10 in the league as the club won the title. Chelsea would go on to retain the title with Drogba again scoring 16 in all competitions.

Drogba Marseille

In the 2006-07 season he scored 33 goals, including two in the League Cup final against Arsenal and also the winner in the FA Cup final against Manchester United. The League Cup became his favourite competition as he would go on to score in his third final, unfortunately they would lose this time to Tottenham Hotspur. Another final that year did not go so well for Drogba as he was sent off in the final of the Champions League against Manchester United who would go on to win on penalties.

The following season didn’t start great for him as he had to wait until late December for his first Premier League goal. Under Scolari he struggled for game time but when Guus Hiddink took charge he returned to great goalscoring form and would once again score in the FA Cup final, helping his side to a 2-1 win. He started the 2009-10 season with 14 goals in the first 16 games. Despite going to the Africa Cup of Nations he still finished with 29 goals in just 32 games and Chelsea would go on to win the Premier League again and then a week later he would score in his sixth final.

2010-11 started well for Chelsea and Drogba but it didn’t last and was quite a disappointing campaign. But the next season was arguably his favourite for the club as he scored his 100th Premier League goal, moved up to fourth in the all time goalscoring list, scoring in yet another FA Cup final and winning the Champions League after scoring the 88th minute equaliser and the winning penalty.

Drogba Chelsea

On the 19th June 2012 Drogba joined Shanghai Shenhua but he would only last 11 games at the club, scoring eight times before joining Turkish side Galatasaray. He would go on to score five minutes into his debut and would help them to the title with five goals in 13 games. He would only spend one full season at the club and after 20 goals in 53 games he would make the return to Chelsea.

The final word can go to Jose Mourinho after his return. “It looks like he never left. He was an ever present even when he wasn’t here. Chelsea belonged to him even in the last two years when he was away. I think we need him. We need him as a player for our squad to be the way I like. So, as a player and person, Didier is someone we need to be strong.”

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20th May – Petr Cech

As birthdays dominate the headlines today it is a day that we must not forget one of Chelsea’s greatest ever signings in Petr Cech.

Yaya Toure may feel he is not getting appreciated enough by his club but the Chelsea number one is loved by everyone at the club and his birthday will have been celebrated in the right way with him receiving many messages. Cech turns 32 today and if other goalkeepers are to go by his best years are still to come.

The Czech international began his career in his homeland at FK Chmel Blsany and made his league debut in October 1999 as a 17 year old in a 3-1 loss to Sparta. In January 2001 he joined Sparta Prague but was allowed to stay at his first club to gain more first team experience until the end of the season and he went on to play 27 times in total for the club.

It wasn’t long before he was in the Sparta first time and was breaking records as in November 2001 he played 855 minutes without conceding a goal in the Czech professional league. Unfortunately for Cech and the club they could not win any trophies but the goalkeeper was attracting interest from the rest of Europe and was close to joining Arsenal but he could not get a work permit and the deal fell through.
FBL-FRA-L1-BORDEAUX-RENNES
So instead he joined French club Rennes in the summer of 2002. Rennes struggled for large periods of time while he was at the club but this did not stop him showing how good he was and once again bigger clubs were looking to sign him. Although their first bid was rejected, Chelsea persevered and got their man for £7 million which made him the most expensive goalkeeper in Chelsea’s history.

He was initially just signed as back up but when first choice Carlo Cudicini suffered an injury, Cech stepped in and made his debut on the first day of the season which they went on to win 1-0 at home to Manchester United. He could not have imagined his first season would be so successful as he set a new record of 1025 minutes without conceding a goal in the Premier League. At the end of the season he lifted the Premier League trophy with the team only conceding 15 goals and him keeping 21 clean sheets.
Cech Chelsea
Chelsea retained the title the next season and they only conceded 22 times this time around. It was a good year personally for the keeper too as he was named the Czech Player of the Year for the first time. Early in the 2006-07 season he suffered a horrible head injury against Reading but he did thankfully return on the 20th January in a game away to Liverpool. From then on he has worn a headguard for every match. Although they lost his comeback game, he then went on another incredible record of not conceding in 810 minutes and was awarded the Player of the Month in April. He then ended the season well by keeping a clean sheet in Chelsea’s FA Cup win.

After an injury hit season, he signed a new contract at the start of the 2008-09 season and Luiz Felipe Scolari said of him. “In my view he is the best goalkeeper in the world, so I am very pleased that he will remain with me at Chelsea.” And in November he kept his 100th clean sheet at Chelsea which is a remarkable achievement. He finished the season with yet another FA Cup win despite conceding the quickest ever goal in a final.
Cech Chelsea 2
The 2009-10 season started with more success as he saved two penalties against Manchester United in the Community Shield after the game finished 2-2 and he ended it with another Premier League winners medal and a third FA Cup success.

After winning every competition Chelsea had competed in he finally got the chance to win the Champions League against Bayern Munich in 2012 and he performed heroically and even though Didier Drogba took the headlines, Cech saved a penalty in extra time and then another two in the penalty shootout to allow Drogba to score the winning penalty. He followed this up the next season by winning the Europa League.

Although the 2013-14 season did not bring the club any trophies he managed to break Peter Bonetti’s record of most clean sheets for the club and ended the season winning the Premier League Golden Glove for the third time by keeping 16 clean sheets.

The final word can go to a goalkeeping great in Bob Wilson. “He is probably the best goalkeeper in the world at the moment. People say ‘go and buy a goalie’ – but outside of Petr Cech I cannot give you a list.”