Thu , 27 Jun 2019


Star footballer Didier Drogba, who played a key role in English Premier League side Chelsea's Champions League triumph last month, on Sunday said he followed last year's cricket World Cup in India and feels that Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a good leader.

The Ivory Coast striker, who scored the equalising goal and also the winner -- a penalty kick -- for Chelsea against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final in Munich, was here to grace the Pepsi T20 Football Grand Finale at Thyagaraj Stadium. He is also the brand ambassador of Pepsi.

Prodded further about his knowledge of Indian cricketers, including Sachin Tendulkar, Drogba said, "I know they are the world champions and if many people in England are talking about them they must be good."

"I respect all sports. They (Indian cricketers) have been picked to represent your country from among millions of people. Just like few footballers like me are professionals," he replied when being told about football being a global sport while cricket is being played by around a dozen country.

Drogba said it was difficult for him to follow cricket initially but later he was able to understand the basics of the game after being taught by some players.

"It took time to understand cricket. In the beginning it was difficult for me to understand. But some players explained the game to me and I thought it's very exciting," he said.

The star striker, who is known for his physical strength and ability to score goals from nowhere, however, said that he did not have much knowledge about Indian football.

"I don't know much about Indian football and footballers. But I saw them play some months ago. I am thrilled to know that football has big fan following here. Asked what he feels about India, Drogba said, "It's very hot, more than that in my country. Europe is freezing. But I am very excited to be here.

"I know cricket is number one here but football is number one sport in the world. It's going to be stiff competition in India (between cricket and football). It's good for the youth as they are going to have the choice," he said.

Recollecting the moments when he scored the winning penalty at Allianz Arena in Munich in the Champions League final, Drogba said he thought it was something which came out of Alfred Hitchcock suspense-thriller movies.

"It was a dream come true and the scenario was something like a Hitchcock movie. There was disappointment after we conceded a goal and then the equaliser and the penalty kick which was a like a lottery," he said.

"I did not know what went into my head after I stepped up to take the penalty. But I stayed calm and scored from the spot for my friend (goalkeeper) Petr Cech who saved three penalty kicks," he added.

"Playing in the UEFA Champions League final was amazing. You have to be there at the Allianz Arena to feel the atmosphere. No doubt, Champions League was among the top sporting events in the world, after the Olympic Games and the (FIFA) World Cup."

Drogba had played under different managers in Chelsea but refused to pick the best out of the lot.

"All of them brought something to Chelsea. When Jose Mourinho came, he gave something, the team spirit. Carlo Ancellotti showed us another way of playing football and then under Roberto Di Matteo we won the Champions League.

"So, it's difficult to pick who is the best manager. But perhaps under Di Matteo we won the coveted trophy we aimed for so long. It was most satisfying. We will have a long lasting memory," he said.

Asked about some experts criticising the brand of football Chelsea plays, Drogba said, "There is more than one way to win in football. FC Barcelona and Manchester United have their styles of play and we in Chelsea have our own way. Of course, we have to please our fans and they are happy. The beauty about football is that we can always improve.