Youngsters need their chance – Drogba

Didier Drogba has said he needed to call time on his Chelsea career partly for the sake of the young talent looking to make the breakthrough at Stamford Bridge.

The 37-year-old Blues legend announced he would be leaving prior to Sunday’s 3-1 win over Sunderland and was able to say goodbye to the fans on an emotional occasion which saw him carried off the pitch by his team-mates when he was substituted.

Drogba only started 14 games for the champions this season and said he “wants to have more minutes than now” in what could be the last season of his career.

But he also said he does not want to stand in the way of he next generation of talent.

“Chelsea have young players coming through,” Drogba told Chelsea’s website. “They need to play. It’s not that I’m not a competitor but I think it’s time to give them a chance.”

Chelsea's title triumph meant Drogba bowed out in style
Chelsea’s title triumph meant Drogba bowed out in style

Teenage strikers Dominic Solanke and Izzy Brown both made their first-team debuts this season.

And manager Jose Mourinho also has 21-year-old Patrick Bamford, who could return after his loan spell with Middlesbrough, and Tammy Abraham, 17, who scored 41 goals at youth level this season.

Drogba felt the time was right to end a 164-goal Chelsea career that spanned two spells and began in 2004.

He added: “I am a bit frustrated because you want to play more. But when I see all the players we have in this squad, I feel happy playing the number of games I have because I have a good contribution – especially in the last few games.

“Plus the team needs to be stronger next year to compete in the Champions League. They are also going to buy new players.”

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