Didier Drogba Becomes Football’s First Player-owner After Taking Over US Club Phoenix Rising

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Didier Drogba has become football’s first player-owner after agreeing to take over at Phoenix Rising.

The Chelsea legend is making an ambitious move to Arizona in the USA after taking advice from Roman Abramovich.

Drogba, 39, has not played since leaving Major League Soccer club Montreal Impact in November.

“To own a team and be a player at the same time is unusual but it’s going to be very exciting,” Drogba said.

“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.”

Didier Drogba has opted to become part of a ten-man consortium planning to establish the Phoenix franchise in the MLS.

The ex-Ivory Coast skipper insists his unique arrangement should not be a cause for concern for coach Frank Yallop.

Didier Drogba said: “As far as the coaching aspect goes, I’m there as a player. There’s no way I can say to the manager that he has to play me. I’m not going to interfere in his decisions or his responsibilities.

“As a co-owner, I will have a say on things like new signings and making proposals about what is best for the club.

“I will carry on playing but my main focus is building and helping Phoenix to become a big team in the MLS.”

Phoenix have just started their fourth season in the Western Conference of USL, which forms part of the second tier of the American league system.

The Arizona club hope to become one of four planned expansion teams in MLS over the next three years.

“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.”

He added: “There are options to go back to Chelsea but I want to be there because I have the qualities required to help the club in a positive way, not just to be there because I played for them in the past.

“There were offers from other Prem clubs but to go to anyone was else was impossible because, for me, there is only one club in England.

“It was strange coming back to Stamford Bridge when I was at Galatasaray and I didn’t want to experience that again.

“I am always going to be close to Chelsea. We have a history together and whenever they need me I will always be ready to help them one way or another.

“Roman called me last season and asked me to speak to the players when they were going through difficult moments.

“It was difficult for me to see the team struggling like that and, of course, I wanted to help.

“So it’s amazing to look at the table and see Chelsea top of the league again. It’s like everything is back to normal.”

Drogba admits this season could be his last as a player and said: “We have a young team so it will be difficult for me to keep my place.

“I’m 39 now and I’m not that fast any more. But I can still find the goal, which is the most important thing.

“It will be nice to play again with Shaun Wright-Phillips, who has been at Phoenix for the past few months and is going to show me the city and help me get my bearings.

“I will need time to get ready. I can’t do crazy things like when I was 25 and could train for one week then go into the team.

“If I wanted to make an immediate impact, I could do it one game but then I’d be out for three months.

“That doesn’t make sense. I want to help the team on a long-term basis.”



"Tega is a writer/OAP, Lover of all things Tech, Sports and TV Series"

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