London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho believes Didier Drogba‘s influence will continue to be felt at Chelsea even though the Ivory Coast forward has called time on his second spell with the Premier League champions.
Drogba announced his intention to leave Stamford Bridge before the 3-1 victory over Sunderland on Sunday that ensured Mourinho’s side ended their title-winning campaign in fitting style before being presented with the trophy after the final whistle.
The 37-year-old is keen to play on for one more year, but will have to look elsewhere for more regular first team action.
Drogba was named captain but played only 28 minutes before being chaired from the pitch by his team-mates as he was replaced by Diego Costa.
And Blues boss Mourinho insists the veteran’s legacy will continue to be felt because of his impact on the development of the club’s younger players.
“The substitution was decided because he had a problem with his knee and, in normal conditions, he could not play for long. We left him on for half an hour,” Mourinho said.
“The captaincy was John Terry‘s desire, to give him the armband. The players to bring him off the pitch? I think that was decided between them because they like him a lot.
“I’m really happy because he was part of the other team, but he belongs also to this new Chelsea.
“For these players to know him, train with him, live with him, play with him, share with him is fantastic.
– Young legend –
Petr Cech also started on what could be his last appearance for the club.
The Chelsea goalkeeper, 33, is keen to move in search of more regular first team football and has been strongly linked with Arsenal, but Mourinho has not given up hope of keeping Cech.
“I keep saying the same. He’s a legend of this club, but he’s a legend at 33. Thirty-three for a goalkeeper is a very young legend,” Mourinho said.
“One of our strengths this season was to have the two best goalkeepers in the Premier League. When Thibaut Courtois was injured, Petr made decisive saves in matches for us.
“I’m not sure if Petr was not here in these seven matches if we could be champions, so his contribution was decisive.
“But we also have to be fair, and not emotional with our analysis, and say that Thibaut is an amazing goalkeeper who had a fantastic season for us. He’s a big champion.”
Members of Chelsea’s 2005 title-winning team were reunited before kick off and Mourinho said: “For me, to have here today the champions of 2004-05 and the champions of 2014-15 is an amazing feeling because I feel as if I belong to both.
“But my job is Chelsea’s future and Chelsea’s future is this team that we’ve been working with in the last few years.
“It would be a dream to be here in 2025 and be with the champions of 2005, 2015 and 2025.”
Sunderland arrived at Stamford Bridge having already secured their Premier League status and boss Dick Advocaat, who masterminded their escape after arriving on a short-term deal in March, insisted he would make a decision on his own future soon.
“Wait and see. It’s not up to me, because they offered me already two or three years. But I have to be honest to myself and to everybody what I will do for the future,” Advocaat said.
“It will be as quick as possible, because the club must know.
“Let’s wait till next week and then I’ll make the decision.”
Culled from http://sports.yahoo.com/news/mourinho-hails-departing-legend-drogba-013530796–sow.html