Date:22nd May 2012 at 5:20pm
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After eight glorious years at Stamford Bridge 34-year-old striker Didier Drogba has confirmed that he will leave Chelsea when his contract expires at the end of June.

Drogba told the club’s official website,

“I wanted to put an end to all the speculation and confirm that I am leaving Chelsea.

“It has been a very difficult decision for me to make and I am very proud of what we have achieved, but the time is right for a new challenge for me.

“As a team we have accomplished so much and have won every single trophy possible.

“Saturday was a very special moment for everyone at the club and for all the fans, and I am very proud to have played my part in bringing many trophies to this club, which has been my home for the last eight years.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at the club especially [owner] Roman [Abramovich] and my team-mates, many of whom have become very close friends and will be my friends for life.

“I would also like to say a very special thank you to the Chelsea fans who have shown me so much love and support over the years.

“I wish the club all the best and continued success for the future – you will always be in my heart.”

During his time in Chelsea blue the Ivorian has scored 157 goals in 341 appearances and picked up a lot of silverware on the way, including one Champions League title, three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups and two Community Shields.

It was fitting that the last ball he kicked for the club won us our first Champions League title. It was his penalty that settled things on the night against Bayern Munich. He also scored an equaliser during normal time when we were 1-0 down, which was his ninth goal in nine finals.

Winning the Champions League gave the redemption the great forward deserved after he was sent off against Manchester United during the 2008 final in Moscow, so wasn’t available to take a penalty in the shootout. Blues fans were left to wonder what might have when club captain John Terry slipped on the spot and missed what would have been the winning penalty had it been converted.

The Ivory Coast forward has certainly had an interesting career at Stamford Bridge since arriving for £24m (proved to be a bargain even at the price). There was times he drove us all mad and his Premier League form has suffered over the past two years, but he leaves us with mostly good memories and was capable of some truly spectacular things.

Many Premier League defenders will breath a huge sigh of relief with the news that Drogba will move on for a new challenge in the twilight years of his career. But in true Drogba fashion he has bowed out by helping us win the holy grail of the Champions League and he has to be considered as one of the Premier League’s greatest forwards alongside the like of Thierry Henry.

As Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay has said, Didier Drogba ‘will always be a part of the Chelsea family’ and we all thank him for his great service and wish him all the best in future with both his football and charity work.

Thanks for everything and stay carefree, Didier.