If there is a player who encapsulates the transformation of Chelsea under owner Roman Abramovich, it's Didier Drogba. One of the first high profile signings of the new regime after joining the London club for £24m in 2004, Drogba has since entrenched himself in the hearts of the Stamford Bridge faithful.
After a glittering initial eight year stint Chelsea which saw him lift three Premiership titles, four FA Cups, and scoring the winning penalty in the 2012 Champions League final, Drogba has rekindled his love affair with the fans after a two year absence.
"This relationship between me and the fans goes both ways," the 36-year-old told Chelsea TV. "The way they show their support and the way they love me. If there is some way I love them even more because of all we achieved together, all the history."
For all his talk of history, though, there are still some very good reasons why the fans love him for what he's doing at the moment.
Although only playing a supporting role at Chelsea and mainly making substitute appearances, Drogba's league goalscoring record is in some ways exceeding those of his younger peers.
|Position||Team||Goals MINS||Appearances||Mins Played|
|Edin Dzeko||FW||Man City||367.5||14||735|
|Robin van Persie||FW||Man Utd||282.67||10||848|
|Wayne Rooney||FW||Man Utd||229.67||8||689|
Currently, Drogba has a better goals-to-minutes-played record than the likes of Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli, Manchester City forward Edin Dzeko, and Manchester United pair Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie. Manager Jose Mourinho has also been able to get more minutes out of his veteran than Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has out of injury prone striker Daniel Sturridge.
It's what Drogba does off the field as well which enamours him so deeply with the Chelsea fans too, though. Rather than use the international break to pop on holiday, Drogba decided to go to Africa to do some charity work.
"I have always said my first eight years here were the best years of my career," added Drogba, reminiscing on his first stint at Stamford Bridge.
"I know they enjoyed it because I did. I’m far from all the players who made history here but I’m also next to them."