On the weekend we start our FA Cup campaign Didier Drogba, one of the most decorated players in the history of the competition, reflects on what makes it so special and expresses his desire to add to his already considerable medal haul…
Didier Drogba has a glint in his eye. The FA Cup is back.
In his last appearance in the competition, two-and-a-half years ago, he produced a decisive goal in the Wembley final. That afternoon Drogba got the better of Liverpool but they were not the first team to feel the full force of the Ivorian’s magic touch in a Wembley FA Cup final. Just ask Manchester United, Everton or Portsmouth supporters.
That precise left-footed drive past Pepe Reina on 5 May 2012 was understandingly usurped by events in Munich two Saturdays later. However, as the official Chelsea website sits down with Drogba over lunch at Cobham on the eve of our entry into this season’s FA Cup, it is quickly apparent this historic tournament means as much to him as ever.
‘Even when I was in France it was a big competition,’ he recalls. ‘We all watched the FA Cup final as though it was the last game of the season. I used to see players that I was and still am a big fan of playing and scoring in these finals, people like Cantona and Anelka.
‘It’s a great competition for English football, one where you can find a team from a lower division or a team that is struggling in the league in the semi-final or the final. The atmosphere for the games, with all the fans travelling to support their teams, is special.
‘When I think of the FA Cup I have these images of Di Matteo, Cantona, Anelka scoring in the final at the old Wembley. I always dreamed of playing at the old Wembley but I didn’t have the chance because they built the new one. I was lucky then to create some kind of history at the new stadium.’
Drogba is referring to his extra-time goal in the first final under the new Wembley arch. On that occasion Manchester United were his victims. Again, it was the winner.
the more you are connected to it. “
That 2007 success is one of four we have enjoyed in the world’s oldest cup competition since Drogba first moved to Stamford Bridge 10-and-a-half years ago. He, more than most, knows what it takes to lift the famous trophy, but cup campaigns do not start in the final. Five ties must be negotiated first.
‘The mentality is always to get closer to Wembley,’ he explains. ‘You win this round; you go to the next one.
‘If you have to replay a game you do it but really the thing is to get to Wembley because it’s a fantastic stadium and the FA Cup is only good when you win it.
‘If you get to the final that’s when you really know you have a chance to win the trophy because when you come in you see the cup. Everything changes.
‘We always play to win. The more you win this competition the more you are connected to it. I think it’s been two-and-a-half years since we won it last so it would be good for us to go to Wembley again and win it but it’s a long journey ahead.’
Our FA Cup campaign may only be beginning tomorrow but our quest for the other trophies on offer this season is already well underway. Later this month we play Liverpool in a two-legged Capital One Cup semi-final tie, a Wembley final the reward for the victors.
Drogba fully expects the Blues to lift silverware before long, pointing out the regularity with which we have done so in the past decade. He also insists the trophy-laden experience he and others at the club have enjoyed would count for little without the impressive talent our younger players – who perhaps have fewer medals to their name – bring to the squad.
‘We have to do it together. We want to achieve something great and I think that is why we have played well this season. I hope at the end of it we will be able to say together we won this trophy, this trophy and this trophy.
‘And yes, I would love to win another FA Cup. I would love to win it for the club and for the fans as well. I know the feeling the fans have when we get to a final. We share the same feeling. It would be nice to go back to Wembley together again and make history.’
Source: NEWS 9 hours