Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Drogba's Love Affair with Mourinho

There are many subplots in today's all-English Champions League final in Moscow between Manchester United and Chelsea.

As far as we're concerned, we're happy to see African stars such as Michael Essien, Claude Makalele and Jon Obi Mikel get the chance to play on football's biggest stage.

But we all know who the star of Chelsea's show is: the enigmatic, charismatic Ivorian striker Didier Drogba. As Reggie Jackson of the New York Yankees once said, he's the 'straw that stirs the drink' ...

Today's New York Times 'Goal' blog has a wonderful article about Drogba and his man crush on former coach Jose Mourinho. It's an interesting read ... here are some excerpts ...

Drogba’s heart may belong to Chelsea’s former manager, Jose Mourinho, but his feet earned Avram Grant the Champions League final spot that eluded the Special One during his tenure at Stamford Bridge.

Beyond the goals, assists and shots, is Drogba’s compelling story, which is getting great attention in the news media leading up to the Champions League final Wednesday against Manchester United in Moscow. In large part it is because of the publication this week of Drogba’s autobiography, in French. The book, “C’était Pas Gagné”, adds fuel to the speculative fires that have burned around Drogba all season — he is unhappy at Chelsea, misses Mourinho, dislikes Grant and is headed to Italy as soon as the season ends. ...

Simon Kuper, writing for The Financial Times, says Drogba’s memoir takes on a peculiar emotional tone when the striker discusses his former manager, “the book’s tone shifts from merely overwrought to cheap romantic novel.”

The player’s feelings for the Portuguese tactician go well beyond respect or admiration; his love for Mourinho seems over the top to Kuper.

After Drogba scores in last year’s F.A. Cup final, thanks to Mourinho’s inspiring words, “Drogba hunts him down in the stadium’s catacombs, and they cry in each other’s arms,” reports Kuper.

The affection appears to be mutual. The Special One writes in the “pretentious preface” of the book, “Whatever, Didier will always be in my heart.”
Kuper: “Cue sunset over fields of swaying corn.”

MY POV: To read the entire article, please click here.

It's no secret that Drogba loved playing for Mourinho. The article suggests that Drogba and possibly Frank Lampard could follow Mourinho to Italy, where the Special One has said he'll coach next season.

Could today prove to be the Ivorian's swan song in Chelsea blue? The West London club's fans can only hope his goodbyes are peppered with the lifting of the Champions League trophy in the Moscow night. Drogba is truly one of the game's special players, diving controversies aside.

Today's game could go a long way to cementing Didier's legacy as one of the greatest African players of all time.

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