By Eduardo Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan
For FOX Deportes
A header that he had no business getting to, and finishing with pinpoint precision.
A penalty kick that was as deceptive as it was authoritative.
Didier Drogba possibly finished his Chelsea career like few players could ever do. Like John Elway winning a Super Bowl during his farewell tour, like Ray Bourque’s last stand for a Stanley Cup, and Michael Jordan’s last hurrah for an NBA title. (Lets all just act like the MJ in Washington never happened, okay? Okay.) Drogba ended the game on his terms, with the fate of the world’s toughest club competition resting on the tip of his toe and a legacy who could go down as the greatest modern era African footballer and greatest foreign-born Chelsea footballer of all-time.
All in a day’s work on the road in enemy territory, as his club played like proverbial hot garbage in a game they really had no business winning.
As John Laguna so eloquently put it in our interview on Saturday, “Drogba is going to be considered the best foreign player in Chelsea’s history, not because of the sheer number of goals he’s scored, but for the importance of these goals. Many of those goals came in the biggest games.”
Drogba’s status as an African footballer now has to be put on a parallel with the great George Weah of Liberia. The Ivorian’s ability to add a Champions League title to a resume that includes two Premier League titles and two FA Cup titles makes his case mighty strong.
Plus, Drogba’s now No. 1 all-time for goals scored at Chelse as a foreign-born (England) player and has won the Golden Boot twice. Impressive.
However, the ability to score when its utterly necessary for his team will mark him as a true champion for his career. The header in the 87th minute, when all seemed to be lost was just an uncanny play by Drogba. Drogba covered nearly 30 years and got his head on the ball, placed the ball in the upper 90 and put the goalie in a precarious situation. 1-1 at the Allianz.
The penalty kick was just plain cheeky. Didn’t waste any time, made a quick hesitation step, but kept the momentum and firmly kicked the ball opposite of Manuel Neuer. Lesser men would have botched that attempt, but Drogba was ready for the challenge.
All in a day’s work, for a man who might not have a job with his championship team next season.