L ondon: Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba confirmed that he will leave newly crowned European champions Chelsea when his contract expires at the end of June.
Drogba has been at the Premier League club since 2004, joining from French side Marseille, and has scored 157 goals in 341 appearances helping the Blues win ten trophies. The 34-year-old leaves the London club on a high after scoring a late equaliser against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final on Saturday and then converting the decisive penalty in a dramatic shoot-out after extra-time.
“I wanted to put an end to the speculation and confirm that I am leaving Chelsea,” he told Chelsea’s website. “It has been a very difficult decision for me to make and I am very proud of what we have achieved, but the time is right for a new challenge for me.”
Drogba is the club’s fourth all-time highest scorer and his 34 goals in European competitions is a Chelsea record by 10 goals. During his eight seasons he won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, and the Champions League title.
“As a team we have accomplished so much and have won every single trophy possible,” said Drogba, who won the Premier League Golden Boot twice. “Saturday was a very special moment for everyone at the club and for all the fans, and I am very proud to have played my part in bringing many trophies to this club, which has been my home for the last eight years.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at the club especially Roman Abramovich and my teammates, many of whom have become very close friends and will be my friends for life. I wish the club all the best and continued success for the future – you will always be in my heart.”
English media have linked the Ivorian target man – scorer of 55 goals in his 84 international appearances – with Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua, where his former Chelsea teammate Nicolas Anelka is player-coach. (AFP)