Chelsea great Didier Drogba retires from soccer

Chelsea great Didier Drogba has announced his retirement from football, ending a 20-year career that saw him win four Premier League titles and the Champions League in 2012.

The 40-year-old Ivorian striker scored 164 goals in two spells with Chelsea. Widely considered one of the greatest Premier League strikers of all time, he ended his second spell with the London side as the club’s fourth-highest scorer.

Drogba spent the last 18 months of his career as a player and co-owner of US side Phoenix Rising.

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“When I think of the last 20 years of my professional career, looking at this picture can’t make me more proud of what I’ve achieved as a player but most importantly how this journey has shaped me as a man,” Drogba wrote on social media.

“If anyone tells you your dreams are too big, just say thank you and work harder and smarter to turn them into reality.”

Drogba won 105 caps for Ivory Coast, becoming his country’s highest-scoring player with 65 goals.

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He started his career with French team Le Mans in 1998, but it wasn’t until 2002 that he started playing top-tier football with Guingamp at the age of 23.

Soon after that he transferred to Marseille for a short stint before heading to the Premier League for a reported fee of $38.5 million.

In his 381 games for Chelsea, he twice won the Premier League golden boot and scored the winning penalty as Chelsea defeated Bayern Munich in 2012 to win its first Champions League title.

His status as a Blues great sealed, Drogba spent the next two seasons with Chinese club Shanghai Shunua and Turkish side Galatasaray before returning to Chelsea to win his fourth and final Premier League title.

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He then joined MLS side Montreal Impact before moving to Phoenix Rising as a player-owner. His last professional appearance was 1-0 defeat to Louisville City FC in the United Soccer League Cup final.

Twice named African footballer of the year, Drogba helped the Ivory Coast to qualify for its first World Cup in 2006.

“I wanna thank all the players, managers, teams and fans that I have met and [have] made this journey one of a kind,” said Drogba on social media.

“Also a huuuuge thank you and love to my family, my personal team for supporting me all my career during all the ups and downs no matter what.

“Looking forward to the next chapter and hoping God will Bless me as much as he did for my football career.”