Jose Mourinho hails evergreen Didier Drogba

Chelsea boss says 36-year-old will finish career at the club and stay as coach or ambassador

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho believes Didier Drogba will finish his career at Stamford Bridge and stay with the club in a coaching or ambassadorial capacity

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho believes Didier Drogba will finish his career at Stamford Bridge and stay with the club in a coaching or ambassadorial capacity

 

José Mourinho described Didier Drogba as “remarkable” after the veteran striker excelled while deputising for the suspended Diego Costa as Chelsea equalled a club record 23-match unbeaten run by defeating Tottenham Hotspur.

Drogba, who had returned to the club in the summer on a free transfer, provided an assist for Eden Hazard’s opening goal and then converted his team’s second to ensure Costa was not missed in Wednesday’s derby. The substitute Loïc Rémy scored his first league goal for the club 17 minutes from time to complete the win and leave Spurs without a win at Stamford Bridge in 28 attempts dating back to 1990.

“He’s remarkable,” said Mourinho of Drogba, who had departed Chelsea after the 2012 European Cup final for brief spells in Chinese and Turkish football. “You know … first of all he’s a team player. He’s a team player. After that, he’s got one of these ‘old-days’ mentalities: not selfish, not vain, a humble guy who plays and fights for the team. Fantastic. When he is on the bench and comes on for the last few minutes because the team needs someone to hold the ball up or to defend set-pieces, he does that with the same enthusiasm and spirit as he does when he starts a game against Tottenham.

Second Captains

“[My team] played against him when I was at Real Madrid and also with Chelsea, last year, so I could feel the kind of potential he still has. I was expecting exactly this [impact]. And there was not even a doubt in my mind about a player who would not be playing every game like before [in his first eight-year spell at the club]. I knew that, from a mental point of view, he would adapt very well to this role, which is so important in the team.”

Mourinho expects Drogba to take on a role at the club – either on the coaching staff or with an ambassadorial brief – when he decides to retire as a player, with the 36-year-old having signed a one-year deal at Stamford Bridge last summer. “The important thing is he is here and will finish his career with Chelsea,” said the manager. “It looks, for me, that he’s going to stay doing other things when he finishes his career. I don’t know if this will be his last season as a player. It must be his decision. He came here to stay, I want him to stay, the club want him to stay. It will be his decision when he decides when he must stop as a player. Something personal.”

Costa will return from a one-match ban for Saturday’s game at Newcastle, where Nemanja Matic will now be suspended after picking up a fifth booking of the season. Mikel John Obi would be the Serb’s most obvious replacement. “But it is not a problem, no problem,” added Mourinho, whose side remain six points clear at the top. “[WE WILL] play another one, like we did with Diego Costa. Did you remember Diego Costa today? I didn’t. We give confidence to the other people. We don’t cry when somebody cannot play. So, obviously, Matic is playing fantastically well for us. Obviously. But that’s the way we think: to forget him.”

(Guardian Service)

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