“[He's] a legend of the game,” said Jozy Altidore. “For me, growing up watching him, he was a terrific striker. You try to emulate your game around your heroes; you watch.”
Said Tosaint Ricketts: “He's a legend. There are no words to [describe] his career. He's done it all. It's an honor to share the field with a player like that. I idolized him growing up. He's a great player.”
Drogba has made a significant impact in Montreal, both on and off the pitch. He took the league by storm after joining midseason in 2015, scoring 11 goals in as many regular-season appearances. Though his minutes have diminished this year, Drogba remains a constant threat, one whom opponents must always consider when taking to the pitch against the Impact.
Montreal hopes that their Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs run consists of two more matches: Wednesday's Eastern Conference Championship decider in Toronto, and the December 10th MLS Cup final. Regardless which potential opponent takes the West, the Impact would be playing on the road.
The Ivorian made his final home appearance on Tuesday night, as the Impact defeated TFC, 3-2, in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Championship at a sold-out Olympic Stadium, coming on in the 71st minute for Matteo Mancosu.
Drogba nearly tallied a fourth for Montreal in the final minute of regulation, after TFC had mounted a partial comeback, raking a shot wide of the post from inside the box. That the chance came in the typical Didier-style – using his immense physical assets to steal space, shirking defenders to craft the opportunity – proved a reminder of the magnitude and forcefulness of his presence.
That both Altidore and Ricketts converged on the word "legend" – one that adorns the orange banner on loan to Impact Supporters from Chelsea FC's – speaks volumes of Drogba's stature in the game.
“That [it was his final home appearance] wasn't in our minds, but after the game you see the presentation. You save a thought for that,” said Altidore. “The game will miss him if this is his last stop. And if not, I'm sure he'll contribute somewhere else.”
And as for who got the treasured collector's item, the kit worn in Drogba's final MLS home match? Fellow Tuesday super-sub Ricketts.
“[I] shook his hand, said, 'Good Game', exchanged jerseys,” said Ricketts. “A special moment for me.”