Drogba: I'm leaving Chelsea
Didier Drogba will leave Chelsea following his UEFA Champions League final heroics, the club's official website has confirmed.
The striker had been initially quoted saying he informed his team-mates of his decision during the club's open-top bus parade yesterday after leading them to the greatest moment in their history on Saturday night. Drogba, who has reportedly already agreed a deal to join Shanghai Shenhua when his Chelsea contract expires this summer, is said to have admitted he struggled to get the words out and burst into tears.
"We will no longer be together next season," the 34-year-old said in quotes attributed to France Football magazine.
"As I decided to leave, I wanted to tell them straight in the eye. "Except that I could not do it. They made me crack," he said. "Even though it's been three years since I said I wanted to leave, I find it hard to admit that it's over with this club - especially as I did not feel like this.
"But I could not see myself sitting on the bench to watch others play when the club plans to set up a new team," he went on. "So that's it - I am preparing for my leap into the unknown. It's going to be another adventure."
Drogba's departure would put a dampener on the jubilant Champions League celebrations of most of Chelsea's players and fans, who engaged in chants of, "Didier Drogba, we want you to stay", during yesterday's open-top bus parade.
However he later revealed on the club's website that he indeed would be leaving. 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 and I am very proud of what we have achieved, but the time is right for a new challenge for me."
"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 [owner] 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."