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African legend Didier Drogba joins Phoenix Rising as player and co-owner
Drogba’s last football adventure was in the Major Soccer League in November with Montreal Impact. Now, the 39-year-old player will start a new quest in the United Soccer League with Phoenix Rising as a striker and as one of ithe owners.
“To own a team and be a player at the same time is unusual but it’s going to be very exciting,” Drogba said regarding the unusual move. “It’s a good transition because I want to carry on playing but I’m almost 40 and it’s important for me to prepare for my later career.”
The only team in Arizona is aiming to become one of four planned expansion teams in MLS over the next three years, that’s why they are supporting their squad with experienced players like the Ivorian star and his former Chelsea teammate Shaun Wright-Phillips who already played three games with Pheonix Rising.
“I had offers from China, from England – in both the Premier League and even the Championship – but they were only as a player,” Drogba told The Premier League Show. “This was the right offer because it was important for me to think about playing, because I enjoy it, but also to get to the next stage of my career.”
“I’m still a player but it’s important to respect the decision of the manager,” added the two-times African Footballer of the Year. “When we’re on the pitch, he’s going to be the one who decides and when we go to board meetings, it’s a different thing.”
After leaving Chelsea in 2012 for the first time, Drogba moved to the Chinese Super League joining Shanghai Shenhua for a short spell. His next club was Turkey’s Galatasaray as he played with the team for two seasons in which he scored a total of 20 goals in 53 appearances. Later, he returned to the Blues for another season scoring seven goals in 40 appearances and winning the English Premier League title. This was his last stop before moving to Montreal Impact.
“The USL is a league on the rise, and today we welcome global superstar Didier Drogba, who joins the growing number of elite, world-class players and rising young talent who choose to make our league their home,” said USL President Jake Edwards. “I also applaud Didier’s commitment to further the overall growth of the game in North America. He will be a great ambassador for our sport, using his experience, talent and vision to benefit fans, as well as fellow players.”
Drogba is Chelsea’s fourth all-time top scorer with 164 goals and Ivory Coast all-time top scorer with 64 goals. He was also named BBC African Footballer of the Year in 2009.