Chelsea forward Didier Drogba spoke of his pride at joining the list of prestigious winners of the Football Writers’ Association Tribute Award at a gala dinner in London.
Drogba, who returned to Chelsea for the 2014/2015 season, having left after scoring the penalty which won the 2012 Champions League final against Bayern Munich, admitted it was a humbling experience to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Ryan Giggs, Thierry Henry, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham.
“I am really proud for this award, in the list of previous winners there are a lot of players whom I really respect and grew up trying to reach their level, so for me this is a great honour,” he said.
“When I came to England, things were difficult, there was the language barrier and culture change.
“With time, we managed to learn more from each other and today I am really happy that the football writers not only understand me a lot on the pitch, but have also helped me with my foundation work.”
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who first signed Drogba from Marseille for £24million in 2004, wrote a personal tribute to the Chelsea striker in the FWA event programme, hailing the forward as the club’s “best-value Chelsea player ever”.
He said: “Throughout my career, I have always refused to say which is my favourite player or the best person, because so many have given soul and blood to play and to fight with me, but if I have to choose one who represents all the good things you want in a player and a man, I think in this moment I would choose Didier.”
FWA chairman Andy Dunn, of the Sunday Mirror, added: “Didier has been one of the most reliable big game players of the modern era.
“I often wonder if Didier Drogba has ever received the credit he deserves for a remarkable career in English, European and world football.
“I am thrilled we have the chance to put that right this evening.”