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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7th March – Hatem Ben Arfa

Hatem Ben Arfa will go down as one of the greatest players to never reach his full potential in England, being the most exciting player on the pitch to the most frustrating in a matter of seconds.

Despite only being 28 there have been some suggestions that he is contemplating retiring from the game after a terrible season that will see him end it as a free agent due to a FIFA ruling. The winger would be a great addition to any side if he could play to the best of his abilities and it is probably why he will be a wanted man in the summer.

Ben Arfa started his career at Lyon, signing his first professional contract in 2004 and made his debut on the opening day of the season against Nice. After more substitute appearance he would score his first goal on the 10th November against Lille. But he wouldn’t really become a regular until the 2007-08 season. He performed very well throughout the season and was named the National Union of Professional Footballers Young Player of the Year. It seemed like he would be an important member of the side for a long time to come after signing a contract extension in March 2008 but a training ground scuffle with Sebastien Squillaci meant his time at the club was up.

HBA Lyon

After a long transfer saga Ben Arfa eventually joined Marseille on the 1st July but it wasn’t long before he was in another bust up as on the 16th July he was involved in one with Djibril Cisse. On his debut however he showed his qualities by scoring against Rennes and in his first 11 matches he hit the back of the net six times. More controversy followed as he was involved in disputes with Modeste M’Bami and manager Eric Gerets. His performances when he was on the pitch were usually of the highest quality but trouble was never far away as in the next season he was fined for missing training and got in yet another argument with new manager Didier Deschamps. He would play 29 times for the club as they won the Ligue 1 title but this was not enough for him to stay at the club.

HBA Marseille

On the 27th August 2010 Ben Arfa joined Newcastle United on a season long loan after many weeks of trouble. But it seemed like it was worth it as on his full debut he scored a brilliant goal against Everton but on the 3rd October his season was over after he suffered a broken tibia and fibula. Despite this the two clubs agreed a permanent transfer. He would have to wait until the 24th September 2011 to make his Premier League return in a 3-1 win over Blackburn Rovers. In the second half of the season he scored two individual goals, firstly in the FA Cup against Blackburn and against Bolton Wanderers. During this time he was an important part of the team and combined brilliantly with Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse.

HBA NU

The next season also started very well as he scored on the opening day against Tottenham Hotspur and then two weeks later hit a great equaliser against Aston Villa. Injuries disrupted the second half of the season but he scored in the win over QPR to guarantee the club’s safety. Once again the 2013-14 season started well for him as he scored against Fulham and was also in great form against Aston Villa, scoring and making an assist. Unfortunately he didn’t perform for the rest of the season. On the 2nd September 2014 he joined Hull City on loan but this only last nine games and manager Steve Bruce admitted at one point he didn’t even know where he was. On the 4th January he was released by Newcastle and signed for Nice the next day. But FIFA ruled that he could not play for them and his contract was terminated.

The final word can go to former teammate Yohan Cabaye. “For me, he remains an extraordinary player with enormous quality. It is true that it was harder for him late in the season. He is going to bounce back. For me, this is one of the players I’ve played with who has the highest quality.”

3rd March – Emmanuel Riviere

Emmanuel Riviere hasn’t quite showed the Newcastle United fans why he outscored James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao at Monaco but he certainly has talent.

At the age of 25 he has plenty of time to adapt to English football and the fans will be hoping that this season has just been adjusting to life in a new country. In their last game Newcastle played two upfront and although Riviere didn’t get a goal himself he certainly put himself about and cause Aston Villa some problems. He will need a good end to the season, at least in terms of performances if he does want to remain in the Premier League.

Riviere started his career at Saint Etienne and made his professional debut on the 3rd January 2009 against Bordeaux alongside current Swansea City striker Bafetimbi Gomis. He would have to wait until right at the end of the season to score his first goal, but on the 13th May he did grab one in the 4-2 win over Le Havre. Due to injuries the striker started the next campaign as the first choice striker but as players returned he was either shifted out wide or used from the bench. During the second half of the season he performed brilliantly and was one of the main reasons why the club avoided relegation. In February and March he played seven times and scored five goals and then later scored the only goal of the game against Boulogne to confirm Saint Etienne’s safety in the top flight.

Riviere SE

In the summer Riviere signed a new three year contract but only stayed for one more season as he produced more good performances and scored some valuable goals for the club once more convinced Toulouse to sign him. He only spent one and a half seasons with his new club and didn’t quite score the amount of goals he would have hoped. In total he scored 10 times in 47 games and somewhat surprisingly on the 30th January 2013 he joined Ligue 2 Monaco. He would go on to score on his debut against Arles in a 2-0 win and helped the club gain promotion to Ligue 1.

Riviere Toulouse

Back in the top flight he started off brilliantly, scoring on the opening day against Bordeaux and then in the next match against Montpellier he scored his first ever hatrick. He continued his good form by scoring the winning goal against Marseille on the 1st September. However, he could not continue his goalscoring form and ended the campaign with 13 goals.

Emmanuel Riviere celebrates scoring for Monaco in their victory over Montpellier

On the 16th July 2014 Riviere joined Newcastle United and made his debut on the opening day against Manchester City. He would go on to score his only goals to date in the League Cup win over Crystal Palace.

The final word can go to teammate Mike Williamson. “I do think the work from Manu goes unnoticed. For me, he’s a great outlet, he puts his body on the line and gets other people goals, hopefully he can get some himself. Up front it was good to see the presence, that work rate, that doggedness.”

6th September – Joseph Yobo

Joseph Yobo holds the honour of being David Moyes’ first signing at Everton and went on to be a very good player for the club and also holds the record for being Nigeria’s most capped player.

He has now retired from international football after competing in the 2014 World Cup and after not being in the starting 11 for the first game he was brought into the squad to help them qualify from the group and helped keep a clean sheet against Bosnia. They were knocked out of the tournament by France with Yobo unfortunately scoring an own goal but he did help his country win the African Cup of Nations in 2013.
Yobo Nigeria
Yobo started his career at Belgian side Standard Liege and made his first team debut in 2000 and went on to make 46 appearances for the club, scoring twice in that time before moving onto France, signing for Marseille. He only played 23 times for the club before being loaned out to Everton in July 2002. He impressed during this loan spell and Everton took up the option to sign him permanently in the following summer and became a very consistent member of the squad.

The 2006-07 was one of the best for him personally as he formed a brilliant central defensive partnership with Joleon Lescott. Both players played every single minute of the Premier League campaign. Yobo was rewarded with a new contract, despite being linked with moves away from the club he stayed loyal to the team that brought him to the Premier League.
Yobo Everton
On the 15th April 2007 he broke another record at Everton, becoming the record appearance holder for an overseas player and he held this until early 2012. Later in the year on the 25th October 2007, he also became the first African player to captain the club in a UEFA Cup game against Greek side Larissa as normal captain Phil Neville was out injured.

Over the next few years Yobo was not always first choice and on the 31st August 2010 he joined Fenerbahce on loan for the season. He played 30 times and scored one goal, helping them win the Turkish league title and this led to his loan being extended for another season. With more impressive performances his transfer was eventually made permanent on the 4th August 2012.
Yobo Fener
After 114 appearances for the club he returned to England on loan as he joined Chris Hughton’s Norwich City on the 30th January 2014 to help them battle against relegation. His debut was against free scoring Manchester City and many expected Norwich to be blown away by Man City’s attacking talent but Yobo and his new teammates stood firm and managed to grind out a 0-0 draw. Unfortunately he could not help them stay up at the end of the season and his move was not made permanent.

Just before the start of the 2014-15 season his contract was terminated by mutual consent and he is still looking for a new club.

The final word can go to David Moyes. “Joe was liable to making a mistake when he first got here but he has continued to develop and now has a real authority about his game. He has captained us and he is also captain of his country, so he knows what it is about.”

15th August – Bolo Zenden

Boudewijn ‘Bolo’ Zenden is 38 today but his career path could have been very different had he decided to go a different route as a youngster.

At the age of 14 Zenden gained a black belt in judo and on the odd occasion he decided to show his teammates his skills as Phil Bardsley once said. “He’s a judo black belt and used to do a few moves on me. I used to say, ‘show me’ – he put me in a move one day and I couldn’t get out. He nearly killed me.” Zenden was also a very good footballer and produced some fantastic performances.

Zenden started his career in Dutch football with PSV Eindhoven and it did not take him long to make the left midfield position his own. For two years he was a very consistent player that produced solid performances but it was in the 1996-97 season that he really showed his quality, playing 34 times and scoring eight goals which helped PSV win the Eredivisie championship and received the Dutch Talent of the Year award. After another season in which he scored 12 goals in 26 games he was being linked with moves away and moved to Spanish giants Barcelona in 1998.
Zenden PSV
Louis Van Gaal was the man to bring to him to Barcelona along with a number of other Dutch players and at first he struggled to gain a place in the team because of the form of Marc Overmars but did eventually find a place in the team in the unfamiliar position of left wing back. Zenden adapted to his new role very well and helped Barcelona win La Liga in the 1998-99 season. In the following season he scored three times for the club in his 45 appearances but this would be his last as a regular. Van Gaal resigned in 2000 and Zenden struggled to get in the side afterwards and at the end of the season he left.
Zenden Barca
Chelsea signed him for £7.5 million but in his three years he could not hold down a regular place however he did start in the 2002 FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal. Zenden was determined to make it in England and was loaned to Middlesbrough for the 2002-03 season where he became an instant hit with fans and will always be remembered for scoring the winning goal in the League Cup final against Bolton Wanderers. After his contract expired at Chelsea he signed for Boro permanently and moved into a central midfield position to great effect as he won the Player of the Year Award in 2005, however this would be his last at the club and he joined Liverpool on a free transfer.
Zenden Boro
Injuries stopped him playing a more prominent role but whenever he was on the pitch he never let the team down and in his two years at the club he only managed 23 games in the Premier League but featured in a lot of European games.

On the 6th July 2007 Zenden signed a two year contract with French club Marseille and made his debut against Rennes. His time at France was uneventful and after two seasons he was released and said that he wanted to end his career in England which he was given the opportunity to do when he was given a trial by Sunderland.

He signed for them in time to make his debut against former club Liverpool. Despite most of his appearances coming from the substitutes bench he signed a new one year contract and this would be his final season as a player. On his last game in club football he scored the opening goal in a 3-0 win over West Ham.

The final word can go to his manager at Sunderland Steve Bruce. “It was immediately obvious that he is still supremely fit and the move happened fairly quickly. He brings international class, a steadying influence and a wide breadth of experience. His career is testament

18th June – Fabio Capello

Fabio Capello is statistically the best manager England have ever had but his time in charge was seen as a failure by most as he made some interesting decisions and was not too keen to learn the language either.

There is no doubting that he is a manager of great quality and gained a lot of respect but he did not perform well at the 2010 World Cup and it was one of the worst times to be an England fan. He is now at his second World Cup as a manager with Russia and he must have had the feeling of déjà vu as his keeper made a terrible mistake in the first game just as Rob Green did against USA in 2010.

As a player Capello turned out for SPAL, Roma, Juventus and Milan and won the Serie A title four times and was capped 32 times by Italy between the years of 1972 and 1978. He ended his playing career after 341 league games and 45 goals which was a decent record for a holding midfielder.
After retiring as a player he became a youth coach at Milan throughout the 1980s and helped develop two of the best defenders the country has ever seen in Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costacurta. His first taste of management also came at Milan when he led the club for the last six games of the 1986-87 season but he was not giving the job permanently despite qualifying for the UEFA Cup.
Capello Juve
He did eventually get given the job in June 1991 and he played a slightly more attacking game than the previous manager that worked well and they went on to win the title at the end of his first season in charge. They were once again the best team in Italy in the following season and also had success on the European stage as they reached the Champions League final, however they lost 1-0 against Marseille. During this period they went 58 league games unbeaten from the 19th May 1991 to 21st March 1993.

The following season he did lead the club to Champions League glory as they beat Barcelona 4-0 in the final. He went on to reach another Champions League final and win another Serie A title before leaving for Real Madrid in 1996. In Spain it was strange for Capello as he won the league title but he was not a favourite of the fans who did not like his style and after a falling out with chairman Lorenzo Sanz he left the club after just one season.

Capello then returned to Milan but this spell was nowhere near as successful as the team struggled and they finished in 10th place as they only won 11 league games all season and had to endure big defeats to rivals Juventus and Roma. After being sacked by Milan he took some time away from the game but returned in 1999 to manage Roma where he had been a player.

He had a slightly disappointing start to his time there but in 2001 he rediscovered the golden touch as he led the club to the title even though earlier in the season the fans had called for him to resign and he had fallen out with a number of players at the club. But Roma won their first major honour in a decade and only the third title of their history. Unfortunately they had to settle for second place in the following season and they would not win another trophy under Capello.
Capello Roma
Despite being highly critical of the way the club had been run in the past, the Italian joined Juventus and he helped them win the Serie A title in both 2005 and 2006 however the club were later stripped of these because of the match fixing scandals. During the investigations of these scandals Capello left for a second spell at Real Madrid and once again the fans were not happy with his style of play and had more fallings out with high profile players and in March they were knocked out of the Champions League and were struggling in fourth place, six points behind Barcelona. However, on the last day of the season Madrid beat Mallorca 3-1 at home which meant that Real won the league. Despite winning the league Capello was sacked.

On the 14th December the Italian was appointed England manager and he qualified comfortably for both the World Cup in 2010 and Euro 2012. However he would not be in charge during the European Championships as he resigned after the FA removed the captaincy from John Terry.
Capello Eng
He is now in charge of Russia and will most likely stay there until after the 2018 World Cup which is being held in their country.

The final word can go to the FA Chief Executive Brian Barwick. “Fabio is a winner. His record over the last decades speaks for itself. At every club he has managed, Fabio has won the league title. Sir Trevor Brooking and I were left in no doubt of his passion and commitment to bring that success to the England team.”

4th May – Fernandinho

One of the best signings of the summer has been vital in helping his team come within touching distance of the Premier League trophy.

Although he hasn’t grabbed as many headlines as some of his teammates Fernandinho has had a brilliant season and on his 29th birthday he would have hoped that his team would be in pole position for the title. This did not look likely a few weeks ago but after Liverpool lost to Chelsea it meant that Manchester City could win the Premier League on goal difference.

Winning trophies is not new to Fernandinho as he had a lot of success throughout his career. He began it at Brazilian side Atletico Paranaense where he scored 14 times in 72 appearances before a £7 million move to Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk. In his first season at the club they won the title and he played a pivotal role playing in 34 games. Unfortunately they failed to retain the title by finishing second but the season after Fernandinho proved what a good player he was by scoring 11 goals and winning the league title once more and the Ukrainian Cup.
Fernandinho Shakhtar
In the 2008-09 season he started to make an impression in Europe by scoring in Champions League wins over FC Basel and away to Barcelona but this was good enough to qualify for the knockout rounds and they dropped into the UEFA Cup which they went on to win. In the tournament he scored against Tottenham Hotspur, CSKA Moscow, Marseille and Dynamo Kiev.

He played for Shakhtar until the summer of 2013 and ended up with 6 Ukrainian Premier League medals before transferring to Manchester City for £34 million. This is a huge transfer fee but he has proved to be a very good signing. He has arguably got the best out of Yaya Toure as he does a lot of defensive work allowing Toure to go forward and cause problems for the opposition’s defence. He has already established himself as very good Premier League player in his own right and scored his first goals in England in a 6-3 victory over Arsenal in which he was also awarded the man of the match award.
Fernandinho Man City
He has so far scored five goals for the club and helped them win the League Cup against Sunderland and manager Manuel Pellegrini believes he should be going to the World Cup in his home country this summer because of his performances. “I suppose that Scolari sees all the games of Manchester City and Fernandinho is one of the best players this season.”

He has been named in a few squads this season and scored his first international goal in a 5-0 win over South Africa. Leaving Luiz Felipe Scolari with a big selection problem. He said. “Fernandinho scored a beautiful goal but that was not the only thing I liked – also his effort, his good passes.”
Fernandinho Brazil
If he could win the Premier League title and then be called up to the Brazil squad for the World Cup it would be an amazing season for him personally. The final word can go to Manchester City manager Pellegrini. “He is an experienced international who will further strengthen our midfield and I think he will be well suited to the Premier League. He is a superb athlete with a wide range of passing, can score goals and most importantly, can quickly turn defence into attack.”