Didier Drogba has revealed the influence of player power in the Chelsea dressing room in his new autobiography, Commitment.
Speculation has always been rife – especially after Jose Mourinho’s first spell in charge of Chelsea – that Roman Abramovich allowed the senior players to have the biggest say at Stamford Bridge.
And striker Drogba has revealed that the Blues’ greatest triumph – winning the Champions League in 2012 – was partly inspired the decisions of a somewhat surprising source.
“The players really stepped up to take responsibility,” the Ivorian writes in his autobiography – excerpts of which have been revealed in the Daily Mail.
“The manager (Roberto Di Matteo) was telling Branislav Ivanovic to play centre back but Jose Bosingwa said, ‘no, no, I will play centre back’, and carried on to say where he thought others should play.
“‘I don’t care’, I remember saying. ‘I can play left back if necessary. We don’t need a striker. I’ll play striker and left back, whatever it takes’.”
In another example, the 37-year-old admits former Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari insisted he would never play for the Blues again and would be sold in the January transfer window to make way for Inter Milan forward Adriano.
“When I left the meeting, the first thing I did was call Mr Abramovich and explain the situation via one of his assistants.”
He was then told by the owner: “No, you’re not going anywhere. Who said you were going?”
Not long afterwards Scolari was sacked, while Drogba went on to score in the FA Cup final success later that season under the management of Guus Hiddink.
Arriving at Chelsea from Marseille in 2004, the forward formed a key part in the spine of players which inspired Chelsea to their most successful period in the club’s history, alongside Petr Cech, John Terry and Frank Lampard.
However he could not have predicted just how important Terry would prove to be if you had asked him after his first training session.
“I noticed a tall, strong guy who looked so young, and who walked and carried himself in such a way that I assumed he was from the reserves,” he writes.
“‘That’s interesting,’ I thought. ‘They’ve obviously brought him over to get a bit of senior squad experience.’
“Towards the end of the session I asked another player who the young guy was. ‘It’s the captain!’ he replied, laughing. ‘John Terry.’ That’s how little I know about the team – I hadn’t even recognised their new young captain.”
Striker Drogba won a clean sweep of trophies during two spells at Stamford Bridge which totalled nine years, and was voted Chelsea’s greatest ever player.