London – Jose Mourinho will use former striker Didier Drogba as a template of how to behave as a professional when he tries to coax the best from the younger players in his squad, the Chelsea manager said.
The Ivory Coast international, now with Turkish team Galatasaray, scored 157 goals in 341 appearances for the Londoners after being bought in 2004 by Mourinho from Olympique Marseille in the Portuguese’s first spell in charge at Stamford Bridge.
“I think Didier Drogba, as a man and as a professional, is a good guy to be looked at as a very special player in the history of this club,” Mourinho told Chelsea’s monthly magazine.
“I can use Didier as a profile to persuade the young boys to follow me because he did follow me from day one.”
Drogba helped Mourinho win back-to-back Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006 and also scored the winning goal in the FA Cup final victory over Manchester United at Wembley in 2007.
Mourinho, who today took his first training session in his second stint at Chelsea after the players reported back following their close-season break, described the Ivorian as a “fantastic example” for any young player.
“He was playing in France and nobody really knew a lot about him when I asked the owner (Roman Abramovich) to buy him,” the Portuguese explained.
“Some people thought he was too expensive for somebody who had not proved himself. Then, in the owner’s 10th year in charge (2013), he was voted the best player in Chelsea’s history.
“I think every player can have the same ambition that Didier had because he was a guy driven by ambition, by emotion, by friendship and by loyalty,” added Mourinho.
“He was loyal to the club, the manager, his fellow players and the fans.”
Drogba ended his eight-year spell at Chelsea in fairy tale style by scoring the winning penalty in the 2012 Champions League final shoot-out victory over Bayern Munich.
Mourinho did not lose at home in the Premier League in his first spell in charge, winning 46 matches and drawing 14.
He often took risks when Chelsea were trailing at Stamford Bridge in order to turn things round and he said he would take the same approach on his return.
“If I gamble … with a risky decision it can go the wrong way,” said the former Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Porto coach.
“How many times did I play here with three defenders? I remember against West Ham (in 2006) we were losing 1-0 and were playing with 10 men after Maniche got a red card early in the game.
“I still gambled, because I wanted to win with 10 men and we did win, 4-1. Maybe one day you are losing 1-0 and you end up losing 1-0 but you are not afraid to make decisions again if people accept you are doing these things for the right reasons.
“The owner knows the way I think, so do the fans, and this is all about empathy. We know that three years without a defeat at home in the league is almost impossible to achieve, but we have to have the natural tendency that, at home, we are very strong.”
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