The Montreal Impact made it official Monday, announcing that they’ve acquired Chelsea and Ivorian legend Didier Drogba as a Designated Player.
Drogba comes to Montreal as part of a sign-and-trade with the Chicago Fire, with the Fire sending the 37-year-old striker to the Impact in exchange for general and targeted allocation money. He will officially join the Impact’s roster upon receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) and his Canadian work permit.
He comes to Montreal on the heels of the Impact's 1-0 win against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday, a victory that saw the club move into the Eastern Conference playoff zone.
"It's an honor to welcome Didier Drogba to the Impact," Impact President Joey Saputo said in a club statement. "From the first conversation I had with him, I felt that he really wanted to play in Montreal. This is one of the biggest days in club history and his arrival to the club will be beneficial in every aspect."
Drogba played 381 games in two stints with English giants Chelsea FC, ranking fourth all-time in club history with 164 goals and adding 88 assists. The ex-Ivorian international helped the London club to four Premier League titles, four FA Cup titles, three League Cup titles and one UEFA Champions League crown.
Drogba was the face of the Ivory Coast’s rise to international prominence, playing 105 games for Les Elephants between 2002 and 2014 and finishing his international career first in Ivory Coast history with 65 goals. He appeared for the Ivory Coast at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups, captaining his country in all three tournaments. The two-time African Footballer of the Year announced his retirement from the international game following last summer’s World Cup in Brazil.
"He's had an impact on millions of people since the start of his career and he will continue to do so wearing the Impact colours," Montreal Vice-President, International Relations & Technical Development Nick De Santis said in the same statement. "A player of his magnitude can only help grow our club. He's been a leader, a winner and a champion throughout his career."
Drogba began his career with French Ligue 2 side Le Mans in 1998, moving to Ligue 1 with EA Guingamp in 2002 and spending one season at Olympique de Marseille before moving to Chelsea in 2004. The two-time Premier League Golden Boot winner left London for the first time in 2012, playing briefly with Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua and spending one year with Turkish club Galatasaray before moving back to Chelsea ahead of last season.
"We are very excited and thrilled to add to our roster a player with an exceptional career," added Impact Technical Director Adam Braz. "He's demonstrated his qualities as a striker at the highest level in Europe. His instinct in front of the goal, his experience and his leadership are all attributes that will help the team on the field."