Didier Drogba confirms he is leaving Chelsea in the summer

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• Ivory Coast striker leaves Chelsea after eight years at the club
• ‘A difficult decision but I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved’

Didier Drogba finally brought down the curtain on his glorious Chelseacareer on Tuesday. The striker confirmed that he is leaving the club when his contract runs out at the end of June.

The 34-year-old Ivory Coast international has spent eight years at Chelsea, scoring 157 goals in 341 appearances, and helped the Blues to win 10 titles.

One of those titles, of course, was the Champions League victory over Bayern Munich on Saturday, when Drogba scored a late equaliser in normal time and then netted the winning kick in the penalty shootout.

He said: “I wanted to put an end to all the speculation and confirm that I am leaving Chelsea. It has been a very difficult decision for me to make, but I am very proud of what we have achieved. As a team we have accomplished so much, and have won every single trophy possible. 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 team-mates, many of whom have become very close friends and will be my friends for life. I would also like to say a very special thank you to the Chelsea fans, who have shown me so much love and support over the years.

“I wish the club all the best and continued success for the future – you will always be in my heart.”

Chelsea, meanwhile, praised the striker’s contribution to the most successful era of the club’s history. The chief executive, Ron Gourlay, said: “Didier is undoubtedly a Chelsea legend and will always be part of the Chelsea family. He is certainly leaving on a high after Saturday night but he feels the time is right for a new challenge.

“Of course Didier has contributed so much to all of Chelsea’s recent successes. He has been a consummate professional during his entire time here and as one of the natural leaders in our squad he has been an inspiration to a lot of our younger players.

“We have known for some time that this outcome was likely but Didier and the club only made a final decision on that in the last couple of days, because for obvious reasons neither Didier nor the club wanted to distract focus away from the Champions League final. The talks were amicable all the way through and we wish him all the best for the future. He is welcome back to Stamford Bridge at any time – either as a player or as a guest of ours.”

Drogba leaves Chelsea having scored 157 goals in 341 appearances. He is the club’s fourth all-time highest scorer, his 34 goals in European competition is a Chelsea record by 10 goals and managed nine strikes in nine cup finals.

He won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two Carling Cups and, finally, the Champions League. He has been named Chelsea’s Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year and won the Premier League golden boot twice.

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