MONTREAL – What do you do faced with a group of giddy Didier Drogba fans? You get out of the way.
I’d found a spot near the newly marked corridor where the Ivory Coast and Chelsea legend was to arrive at Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport on Wednesday afternoon, all in the hopes that I’d get the first quotes from Drogba as a member of the Impact. I should have known better.
As the big striker sauntered down the stairs, hundreds of supporters rushed the safety barriers. Except they weren't barriers so much as nylon hurdles for onrushing fans to trample in their haste to catch a glipse of the man of the hour.
Needless to say, my tape is useless. The chants for Drogba were deafening, and I was easily dragged away from the action by the mad rush anyway, nearly tripping over a few large bags enveloped by the Impact's welcoming party. I assume I wasn't the only one fearing injury -- a twisted ankle, perhaps the same fate as those poor "barriers."
But it was a healthy, even blissful, fear.
By the time I got to the airport, roughly an hour before Drogba's scheduled landing – two hours before he actually showed up – a couple hundred fans were already gearing up for the reveal. Ivorians danced to the sound of drums. Longtime Impact fans and Chelsea and Marseille faithful watched on and waited.
Attempts to post pictures or stream the event via Periscope failed as more and more people rushed to document their own experience. This was a multicultural microwave. Drogba managed to capture the scene on Instagram, uploading the scene from his perspective once security finally managed to clear a path to a waiting car.
After the mayhem died down and the starstruck masses began to regain composure, I made my escape, not three steps from where Drogba himself walked out the door.
There was no red carpet, but make no mistake, the King has arrived. And he may change soccer in Montreal.