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Mourinho was managing Porto when he first spotted Drogba in a Champions League tie with Marseille in October 2003.
"Didier Drogba came into my life in the fifth minute of a Champions League game in Marseille's mythical Velodrome," said Mourinho.
"I'd hardly sat down when that giant with the 11 on his shirt scored. He celebrated that goal like it was his last, the crowd went mad, the noise was deafening.
"At half-time I found him in the tunnel and told him, 'I don't have the money to buy you, but do you have any cousins that can play like you in the Ivory Coast?' He laughed, hugged me and said, 'one day you'll be in a club which can buy me.'"
The following summer Mourinho was heading to Chelsea. He hadn't forgotten about Drogba and felt the striker would be a hit at Stamford Bridge. Others at Chelsea didn't feel quite the same.
"Six months later I signed for Chelsea," said Mourinho. "I had found a super powerful club which everybody wanted to negotiate with, everybody wanted to be linked to - and everybody wanted to play for.
"I had a number of options, but I arrived and said, 'I want Didier Drogba.' Doubts and questions were raised by a few people: 'Why this one?', 'Why not that one?', 'Are you sure he will adapt?', 'Is he really that good?'
'I want Didier Drogba,' I said.
"A few days passed, and I met with Didier in a private airport in London. Again, he hugged me, but this time in an unforgettable way: an embrace that showed this man's gratitude, and the affection he feels towards people who mean a lot to him. Indescribable.
"Then he told me: 'Thank you. I will fight for you. You won't regret it. I will stay loyal to you forever.'
"And that's just what he's done..."
Drogba went on to lead the line at Stamford Bridge for the next eight years, the Blues' most successful period in their history.
Mourinho re-signed the Ivorian in his second spell in charge at Chelsea in 2014. In total, Drogba scored 164 goals In 381 games with the Blues over his two spells.
Mourinho on Didier Drogba.- Chopper (@Chelstillidie) January 24, 2021
We need that mentality at the club again.
This brought back the memories of when Didier struggled at the club first but he kept his head up and put his heart and hard work on the pitch, then went on to bring us the european cup. @didierdrogba pic.twitter.com/5oEk1vUUH7
"His loyalty came out in his leadership and in the way he always faced up to the difficult moments," said Mourinho.
"Moments when nothing else matters than to be there for your leader and your colleagues. This was a person I knew I could count on whenever and wherever I needed.
"When the team was under pressure he would help defend; when he felt pain he would stretch himself to the limit and then, of course, came what he did best: scoring goals.
"Those goals brought him titles and awards, but what stays with me are the countless stories we have together."
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