Chelsea’s Champions League hero Didier Drogba is leaving the club, it has been confirmed.
Drogba, who spent eight memorable years at Stamford Bridge, is out-of-contract this summer and was widely tipped to move.
The Ivorian played a starring role in Chelsea’s European triumph against Bayern Munich, scoring a late equaliser and then netting the winning penalty in a dramatic shoot-out.
That penalty will be Drogba’s final kick for the Blues, who won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two Carling Cups during his time in west London.
The 34-year-old said: “I wanted to put an end to all the speculation and confirm that I am leaving Chelsea.
“It has been a very difficult decision for me to make and I am very proud of what we have achieved but the time is right for a new challenge for me.
“As a team we have accomplished so much and have won every single trophy possible. Saturday was a very special moment for everyone at the club and for all the fans.
“I am very proud to have played my part in bringing many trophies to this club, which has been my home for the last eight years.”
Drogba netted 157 goals in 341 appearances for Chelsea, making him their fourth all-time highest scorer.
His 34 goals in European competition is a Chelsea record, and his header against Bayern was his ninth goal in nine cup finals for the club.
Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay said: “Didier is undoubtedly a Chelsea legend and will always be part of the Chelsea family.
“He is certainly leaving on a high after Saturday night but he feels the time is right for a new challenge.
“Didier has contributed so much to all of Chelsea’s recent successes. He has been a consummate professional during his entire time here and as one of the natural leaders in our squad he has been an inspiration to a lot of our younger players.
“We have known for some time that this outcome was likely but Didier and the club only made a final decision on that in the last couple of days, because for obvious reasons neither Didier nor the club wanted to distract focus away from the Champions League final.
“The talks were amicable all the way through and we wish him all the best for the future. He is welcome back to Stamford Bridge at any time – either as a player or as a guest of ours.”
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