LONDON, England, April 16 – Didier Drogba insists his dynamic display in Chelsea’s 5-1 FA Cup semi-final demolition of Tottenham proves he still has what it takes to dominate on the game’s biggest stages.
Goals from Drogba, Juan Mata, Ramires, Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda saw Chelsea romp into their fourth FA Cup final in six years, with Tottenham’s lone strike coming from Gareth Bale.
Drogba has endured a difficult campaign marred by prolonged spells on the sidelines due to injuries and inconsistent form and many expect this to be the veteran striker’s final year at Stamford Bridge.
The 34-year-old, who is out of contract at the end of the season and has yet to sign a new deal, appeared to fall out of favour during Andre Villas-Boas’s brief reign.
But the Ivory Coast star has been given a reprieve by interim boss Roberto Di Matteo and he rolled back the years at Wembley on Sunday with a simply unstoppable goal and the kind of muscular, intelligent performance that makes him a nightmare for defenders to deal with.
Drogba believes he still has plenty to offer in the twilight on his career, with his experience making it easy for him to flourish in showpiece occasions and pass on his knowledge to the newer members of the squad.
“That is experience. We have quite a few big games since I was here so I know how to approach them and how to play them,” he said.
“We tried to give that experience to the new players. We have a few players here who don’t really know what the FA Cup means and I think they realised today that it is a big competition and we are here to win it.
“Every season I want to win trophies. Last season was bad because we didn’t win any. It is not about my last year here or whatever. I just want to win trophies.”
While many of Chelsea’s senior stars, including Drogba, struggled to respond to the aloof style of man-management employed by Villas-Boas, the former Marseille striker has been handled with care by Di Matteo.
The Italian keeps players informed of why they are left out of the team and Drogba is convinced that communication makes it easier to stomach being dropped.
“I think it is new for me but there is nothing bad about it,” he said. “The most important thing is for the team to win games.
“Of course I would like to play more but so would the other players.
“The most important thing is the communication. It is easier when you win games. The spirit is better. That is what we are doing at the moment.
“We have all these games, they are all very important. But that is why you sign for Chelsea because you want to play these big games. That is what is exciting for me.”
Drogba, who hopes to recover from a minor hamstring injury in time to face Barcelona in Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final, has developed a happy knack of scoring at Wembley.
His 43rd minute screamer in the first half against Spurs was his seventh at the English national stadium and showed everything that he does best.
Receiving a long pass from Frank Lampard, he controlled on his chest and turned away from William Gallas before unleashing a ferocious strike with his supposedly weaker left foot that flashed past Carlo Cudicini into the roof of the net.
“The last one for me is always the best,” Drogba said when asked about his Wembley record.”This one is special because I scored with my left foot.
“I’m really happy because the pass from Lamps was fantastic. I think he has been involved in 80 percent of my goals here.
“I want to thank him because he has been here with me for so long and gives me so many nice balls. When he is playing I have more chances to score. We have known each other for years and it is easier.”