November 22, 2018 / 12:58 AM / 23 days ago

Former Chelsea striker Drogba announces retirement at 40

LONDON (Reuters) - Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba announced his retirement on Wednesday, calling time on a 20-year career in which the bullish centre forward won four Premier League titles and the 2012 Champions League.

FILE PHOTO: Chelsea's Didier Drogba celebrates with the trophy after their Champions League final soccer match against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in Munich May 19, 2012. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

Ivorian Drogba, who had been playing in the United States for Phoenix Rising, had two spells at Chelsea, scoring 164 goals in 381 games having spearheaded the west London club’s revival under owner Roman Abramovich.

Drogba, 40, began his career at French side Le Mans in 1998, but did not play top-tier football until he was 23 when he was signed by Guingamp in 2002.

He moved to Olympique de Marseille in 2003 and a year later was signed by Chelsea where he became the attacking focal point of the team under Jose Mourinho and helped the club win their first top flight English title in 50 years.

He went on to win three Premier League titles in his first eight years at Chelsea as well as four FA Cups and two League Cups.

His first spell in west London ended on a high as he scored the winning penalty in the Champions League final shootout against Bayern Munich having also equalised with a thumping header to force extra time.

He had spells in China and Turkey before returning to Chelsea where he won a fourth Premier League title and a third League Cup, leaving the club as their fourth highest scorer of all time.

Drogba, who made than 100 appearances for the Ivory Coast and was voted African footballer of the year twice, ended his playing days with Phoenix Rising where he was a player-owner.

“It’s the best way to end, helping some young talent to develop,” Drogba told the BBC.

“To give something back to the game was the best way to finish as I have learned so much in the game.”

Reporting by Toby Davis; Editing by Nick Mulvenney

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