There was no chance Didier Drogba would go quietly. Although dormant for long periods as Bayern Munich probed and pressed Chelsea's rearguard, the striker contributed to this final's defining moments befitting a man of his stature.
Actor or performer, ultimately this was a magical way for Drogba to bow out, scoring the decisive penalty with his last kick in a blue shirt. Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes labelled the 34-year-old an "actor" on the eve of last night's Champions' League final, causing sufficient controversy for club officials to adjust the translation to "performer" but there was no confusion on a showstopping night at the Allianz Arena. Drogba has come to epitomise Chelsea under Roman Abramovich. His pomp was characterised by awesome displays of power and finesse in an irresistible alchemy reflected in Jose Mourinho's successful side. As the consistency of his performance has changed from beaming to intermittent with age, Drogba plays the role of ageing relic called upon to rouse himself for one last show of defiance for a team showing signs of decay.
Rightly lauded as a big game player in domestic finals – eight goals in seven showpiece occasions is irrefutable proof – Drogba's performance in Europe's biggest matches have been less celebrated.
Fortunate not to be sent off as Marseille lost the 2004 Uefa Cup final to Valencia, Drogba went one worse in Moscow four years ago when Chelsea lost to Manchester United.
In fact, no player has been sent off more times in the Champions' League than Drogba and that is before taking into account his flip-flopped flip-out rant at referee Tom Henning Ovrebo after their 2009 exit to Barcelona which earned him a four-match ban. Drogba's ire runs deep and his sense of injustice in this competition resonates clearly with Abramovich's sentiment that the Blues were fated never to land European club football's premier prize.
In Munich he lurched between Messiah and madness. His bullet header found its way into the net to cancel out Thomas Müller's 83rd minute effort to provide the most unlikely denouement to normal time. But then ignominy struck. A tired and clumsy tackle on Franck Ribéry gave Arjen Robben the chance to score from the spot in extra-time. He squandered it. Drogba made no such mistake in the shootout.
He has scored 33 goals in the Champions' League this season and his record of six in eight this year is his best ratio in eight years at the club. It would be premature if Drogba were to sacrifice top level football for a lucrative spell in Russia, China or America's Major League Soccer.
He could have a future at Stamford Bridge although the noises suggest his exit is imminent. Drogba's contract expires at the beginning of June, leaving Chelsea with 12 days to decide if they want to keep their Lord-a-Leaping.
Talks over a new deal are due this week between chief executive Ron Gourlay and Thierno Seyde, the player's agent. His non-negotiable insistence on a two-year deal is set to prove an insurmountable obstacle but there was more evidence here he might just be worth more than the solitary 12 months on offer. The greatest actors always leave the stage with the audience wanting more.Reuse content