Chelsea's European Cup winning hero Didier Drogba will bow out on a high after it was confirmed that the striker will leave the club when his contract expires at the end of June.
The Ivorian scored both the equalizer and winning penalty as Chelsea became champions of Europe for the first time on Saturday, but his exit this summer had long been expected. Despite renewed calls to sign the 34-year-old to an extension after a series of decisive performances in Chelsea's biggest games at the climax of the season, Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay said that the position of both parties had not changed.
We have known for some time that this outcome was likely but Didier and the club only made a final decision on that in the last couple of days, because for obvious reasons neither Didier nor the club wanted to distract focus away from the Champions League Final, he said, according to Chelsea's website.
The talks were amicable all the way through and we wish him all the best for the future. He is welcome back to Stamford Bridge at any time--either as a player or as a guest of ours.
Unsurprisingly, Drogba said that it had been a tough choice to leave the club.
I wanted to put an end to all the speculation and confirm that I am leaving Chelsea, he said. 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.
Drogba joined Chelsea from Marseille in 2004 and won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two Carling Cups and most recently claimed the biggest prize of all with victory over Bayern Munich.
As a team we have accomplished so much and have won every single trophy possible, Drogba said. 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.
Drogba is widely expected to join former Chelsea teammate Nicolas Anelka at Shanghai Shenhua.