Chelsea agreed a £24million fee with Marseille for striker Didier Drogba on this day in 2004.
Chelsea spent much of the summer of 2004 working to persuade Marseille to part company with star striker Drogba.
On July 19, they got their reward when the Ligue 1 club accepted their £24million offer to spark a love affair between club and player which was to span nine seasons over two spells.
Drogba had spent just a single campaign with the French club, who he had joined from Guingamp for just £3.3million the previous summer.
The Ivory Coast international had scored 27 goals in 46 appearances for Marseille, two against both Liverpool and Newcastle during a UEFA Cup campaign which took them all the way to the final, to underline his prowess and alert a serious of suitors.
Chelsea had tested the water with a bid of £18million which was rejected out of hand, with Marseille holding out for £27million, a stance which prompted Blues’ chief executive Peter Kenyon to warn the sellers that billionaire owner Roman Abramovich would not be held to ransom.
However, amid interest from Serie A, it was they who eventually struck a deal at £24million as manager Jose Mourinho, who had only been in his post a matter of weeks, cleared the decks by loaning Hernan Crespo to AC Milan and allowing Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to leave on a free transfer.
Speaking at the time, Drogba said: “I also had offers from Italian clubs but going to Chelsea is an interesting challenge in my career. I am glad to join them and I hope I will live up to their expectations.”
He need not have worried. In eight seasons at Stamford Bridge, the frontman scored 157 goals in 342 appearances and helped the club win three Premier League titles, four FA Cups two League Cups and the Champions League, in which he had scored the winning penalty in a shoot-out after earlier heading a late equaliser against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.
His heroics in Munich represented the perfect swansong as the then 34-year-old headed off to China for a brief stay at Shanghai Shenhua and then to Turkey and Galatasaray.
Drogba, however, was not done with the Premier League and in July 2014 at the age of 36, he returned to the Bridge, where Mourinho – who had himself left in September 2007 – was back at the helm, to play his part in another Premier League title drive.
Explaining the striker’s return, Mourinho said: “He’s coming because he’s one of the best strikers in Europe.
“I know his personality very well and I know if he comes back he’s not protected by history or what he’s done for this club previously. He is coming with the mentality to make more history.”