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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26th August – Colin Kazim-Richards

Colin Kazim-Richards was once dubbed the ‘Coca Cola Kid’ after the company ran a competition for football fans to sign a player for their club.

Kazim-Richards was the player that Brighton signed after a fan of their club won the competition and the £250,000 was given to the club to sign a player. This is an extraordinary start to a career that just kept on getting more incredible as it went on with the striker travelling over Europe to play football and also represent Turkey’s national team despite being brought up in England but qualified for Turkey through his mother.

The striker started his career at Bury and after progressing through their youth team he was already attracting attention from bigger clubs at the age of 15. He broke into the first team in the 2004-05 season and scored three times in 30 appearances but his performances were very impressive for someone so young. It was at the age of 18 he signed for Brighton but as expected he played a lot from the bench in his first season at the club, however his still managed six goals, including their 5000th league goal.
Kazim Richards Brighton
He only stayed at the club for one season and submitted a transfer request which Brighton accepted and then sold him to Sheffield United for £125,000 on the 31st August 2006. He once again only lasted one season at the club and in his 27 league games he only managed one goal in a 2-2 draw with Bolton Wanderers.

On the 15th June 2007 he joined Turkish club Fenerbahce and in his first two seasons at the club he was in and out of the first team but he did manage to score in the Champions League quarter final against Chelsea on the 2nd April 2008. Despite his good performances when he was on the pitch he had a difficult relationship with the fans at times and was loaned out to French club Toulouse in January 2010 and scored on his debut in a 3-1 win over Le Mans.
Kazim Richards Fener
After 18 appearances and two goals he returned to Fenerbahce but after just another five games he was released on the 3rd January 2011 and joined local rivals Galatasaray and in his first half a season he scored five times including one against former club Fenerbahce. After a total of 35 games and seven goals and a short loan spell at Olympiakos, Kazim-Richards returned to England.
Kazim Richards Gala
Blackburn Rovers signed the striker on loan but his time at the club was blighted by a court appearance over an alleged homophobic gesture in a match away to former club Brighton. He managed to score five times in his 31 games but his loan was not made permanent and he signed for Bursaspor on the 4th September 2013 on a four year deal but after just one season he has joined Dutch side Feyenoord on loan.

The final word can go to former Blackburn manager Steve Kean. “He could be a real versatile player for us as he can play through the middle or he can play out wide. He’s got great power in his right foot and technically he has improved dramatically having played with some top players out in Turkey.”

18th May – Brad Friedel

Brad Friedel has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League era setting new records and even has one goal to his name.

Now 43 he still looks like he has the ability to continue for a few more years to come at the top level and even though he is no longer first choice at Tottenham Hotspur whenever he was called upon last season he put in some decent performances. The Premier League are lucky to have had such a talented and committed individual but early in his career it looked like he was not going to get the chance to play in England.

Firstly he tried to sign for Nottingham Forest but he was unable to secure a work permit and the transfer fell through. Then he tried joining Newcastle United but ran into further problems and ended up going on loan to Danish club Brondby. Friedel then attempted to join a third English club in Sunderland but once again he failed to get a work permit and joined Galatasaray. After playing in 30 league games for them he moved back to United States joining Columbus Crew and was named the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.

Finally on the 23rd December 1997 he gained a work permit and joined Liverpool. However, it was not as successful as he hoped because he only played 25 league games in three years. In 2000 he joined Blackburn Rovers and his talent began to shine through with them winning promotion to the Premier League in his first season and then producing some brilliant saves to keep them in the top flight. But his most memorable performance was in the 2002 League Cup final as he was named man of the match in a 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur. He continued to get better and in the next season he kept 15 clean sheets and was named the club’s Player of the Year as well as being included in the Premier League Team of the Year. Blackburn manager Graeme Souness said of his keeper. “He would certainly get into the top 10 in the world. He’s one of the best keepers in England and I know there are other managers who think that too.”
Friedel Blackburn
On the 21st February 2004 he became the second goalkeeper to score in the Premier League when he scored the equaliser against Charlton Athletic. Remarkably though they still went onto lose the game.

In 2008 he joined Aston Villa and while at the club he broke the record for continuous games in the Premier League after his 167th finished in a 0-0 draw with Fulham. Friedel’s record was nearly broken when he was sent off against Liverpool, however the decision was overturned and he made it to 250 consecutive games on the 16th January 2011.
Freidel Villa
When his contract expired at the end of the season he joined Tottenham Hotspur which meant that he did not miss a Premier League game while at Villa Park. He made his debut for Spurs against Manchester United and his record continued for the rest of the season. After Hugo LLoris was signed everyone presumed he would be replaced but after an impressive display against Norwich City, the new signing had to wait for his chance. Norwich centre back Sebastien Bassong saifd of Friedel’s performance that day. “Uncle Brad was magic, I’ve never doubted his quality. He is one of the best in the Premier League. He’s a terrific player, they finished fourth last year and he played a big part in that.”
Friedel Spurs
Unfortunately his run of 310 consecutive games was ended when he was named on the bench on the 7th October.

The final word can go to his former Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill. “Friedel has not played all those games not to be considered as good as anyone and I played with two unbelievable keepers – Pat Jennings and Peter Shilton.”

15th May – Frank De Boer

He is one of the favourites to take over at Tottenham Hotspur this summer and it is easy to see why because he has a fantastic managerial record and was a very good player.

Frank De Boer turns 44 today and could very well be a Premier League manager by his next birthday and it is easy to see why Spurs is a good choice for him. He will play attacking football and get the best out of the forward players and will also be able to get the best out of a lot of the younger players. In addition to this he has already worked with some Spurs players including Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen.

If they want to hire someone that has been successful all through his career then De Boer definitely fits this criteria. As a player he started out at Ajax with his brother Ronald and won both the UEFA Cup in 1992 and the Champions League in 1995. This shows that he knows how to approach European competitions and knows what it takes to win one. Also in his time at Ajax he won five Eredivisie titles and two KNVB Cups but in January 1999 he left for Barcelona.
De Boer Ajax
At Barcelona he was managed by Louis Van Gaal, another man heavily linked with an English club this summer, and in his first season there he won the La Liga title. For the next four seasons they did not win any more trophies but De Boer was very consistent and played over 200 times for the club in all competitions before leaving for Turkish side Galatasaray, where he played 23 times and scored one goal.
De Boer Barcelona
In Januray 2004 he joined up with his brother once more at Rangers and helped the club to the UEFA Cup final which they lost. Shortly after the defeat they both left the club and finished their careers in Qatar. Frank announced his retirement in April 2006 and in 2007 he became a youth coach at Ajax.

On the 6th December 2010 Martin Jol was sacked by Ajax and De Boer became caretaker manager and in his first game he led his team to a 2-0 victory over AC Milan in the Champions League. At the end of his first season in charge they won the Eredivisie on the final day and to make it even better it was De Boer’s birthday when they clinched the title.
Ajax coach Frank de Boer  event:428
Ajax retained the title for the next two seasons meaning that De Boer had won three championships in just two and a half years. He would go on to make it four titles in a row in the season that has just finished and became the first ever manager to achieve this in the Dutch league and is the first time ever that Ajax have won four in a row. This means that as a player and a manager he has won nine Eredivisie titles which is also a record.

The final word can go to former Holland striker Patrick Kluivert. “Like Pep Guardiola as a player, you could see Frank would become a trainer. He is a winner. He wanted to win everything, even card games, he wanted to win. He is a big trainer coming, absolutely.”