By Shikharr Chandra
As Didier Drogba swung his boot and put the ball past Manuel Neuer at the Allianz Arena on 19th May, 2012 his legacy at the club was forever cemented. His name in the history books was written and there was little doubt in the supporters mind that Drogba would go down in the club's history as there greatest ever striker.
He had achieved everything at the club- a Champions League crown, three league titles and four FA Cups. It was probably the right moment to bid farewell to the club, but it seems both the club and the player wanted one last chapter to be written by him in his illustrious career for the Blues.
Famous Russian author, Ayn Rand once said, “If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing.” Following the return of Drogba there were a lot of doubts raised on Mourinho's decision as to why he chose to bring back a 36-year old into the side when you already have three center forwards competing for one spot.
Last season, a similar decision to sign Samuel Eto'o was understandable considering neither Demba Ba nor Fernando Torres could be trusted with a regular role in the starting eleven but with the signing of Diego Costa and Romelu Lukaku back in the side, Chelsea now have two forwards capable of a good season if they live up to their standards.
There were questions raised on Drogba's decision as well. Why tarnish the memory of that final kick in a Chelsea shirt which won the club the Champions League?
A decade ago when Drogba joined Chelsea from Marseille becoming the then most expensive striker in the club's history, the expectations and the targets of the big Ivorian were very different. He joined the club headed by a rather young Russian owner, a Portuguese manager who ultimately became the prime reason of his signing and a squad of players that had barely achieved anything in their careers. The target was to take this club to a whole new level which ultimately Drogba and the squad did.
But as he rejoins with the present squad in Holland next week to begin his second spell, life at South West London will be very different than the one he enjpyed ten years ago.
Drogba's return coincides with the departure of Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard, two of the most experienced figures in the squad. Along with them, the future of Petr Cech remains a bit uncertain as well with the arrival of Thibaut Courtois in the side. This is where the presence of Drogba comes in handy in the dressing room.
Over the years, Drogba has built a reputation as a leader. Although the Ivorian never captained the Chelsea side on a regular basis, his presence in the locker room was enough to attract everyone's attention. In the Champions League game against Valencia back in 2012, a must win tie for Chelsea, the sight of Drogba commanding and motivating the players before kick-off garnered everyone's attention.
Drogba later recalled that he does not consider himself to be above everyone but it was the magnitude of the tie that made him speak to the players. He felt the need to motivate them and remind them the importance of the tie. "I always talk to the players, not because I feel I am the best but I have been there and I know what it is like." Chelsea ended up winning the game 3-0 thanks to the striker's brace.
With the departure of experienced stalwarts from the side, Drogba can take over the role as the general of the squad, someone who needs no introduction to the working of the club, one who is familiar with its spirit and ethos and someone who can help the new players settle in.
There has been a lot of hoo-haa surrounding Lukaku's future amid interest from Real Madrid and Juventus but with Drogba, the Belgian's childhood hero sitting with him in the same locker room, one senses that he may be convinced to stay put and fight for his place.
A lot of times over the years we have seen how new signings have failed to adjust to the pace of the Premier League but with Drogba's ten year experience, Costa might find life a lot easier in England than he had expected. Like Costa, Drogba was never a prolific goal scorer during his early years. Both are known for their bullish attitude towards defenders.
Drogba's farewell gift to Chelsea players, when he left them back in 2012.
Despite the concerns of many, Drogba's one year contract will mainly see him being used as an impact substitute in big games rather than him leading the line on a regular basis. His signing hardly hampers the balance of the side. Instead, it offers Mourinho a viable option should he need one. Drogba's composure and experience in pressure situations indicates that he can get the job done when called upon.
He might not be the same man who turned into a beast in front of the opposition defenders, or the one who dominated the other side with his sheer strength and skill but it is his presence that still counts more than anything else.
When Drogba left Chelsea in 2012 for Shanghai Shenhua, he had achieved everything with the club and since then the Blues have failed to find the right man to lead the attack in his absence.
As he returns to the club where he is so highly regarded, where his banner hangs and where the crowd sings his name even when he was on the opposing side, it is a chance for Drogba to open the history books again and write one more chapter.