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Didier Drogba's Pre-Match Superstition Involved Stuffing Boots With L'Equipe Newspaper

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Didier Drogba's Pre-Match Superstition Involved Stuffing Boots With L'Equipe Newspaper

Chelsea kit man Garry Grey once revealed that Didier Drogba was "very particular" about pre-match preparation and had a superstition that involved stuffing his boots with newspaper.

The former Ivory Coast international, who spent eight years at Stamford Bridge after joining from Marseille in 2004, scored 164 goals in 381 games for the club, lifting numerous honours during a trophy-laden spell in West London.

He helped Chelsea win their first league title during Jose Mourinho's first season in charge and eight years later, he netted the winning penalty against Bayern Munich to seal a historic Champions League final win.

Image credit: PA
Image credit: PA
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Image credit: PA
Image credit: PA

Drogba went on to cement himself as one of the all-time Premier League greats and, according to kit man Grey, one of the secrets behind his legacy at Chelsea was the way he looked after his boots.

In an interview with Sky Sports in Chelsea's dressing room, he explained the theory behind stuffing Drogba's boots with L'Equipe newspaper while praising his mentality.

"Didier is very particular on match days especially," Grey told Sky Sports presenter Chris Kamara.

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"Even the day before a game, he zones into this Didier Drogba mentality. You have to do a lot of things with him, particularly with his boots. They are his tools. We wet them, dry them and then stuff them with paper to keep their shape.

"It's Didier's way and it proves to work."

Grey says they did whatever they could to help him flourish on the pitch.

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"It was the French paper L'Equipe," he continued. "We soak them, dry them, soak them again and then stuff them with paper. His feet are his wands."

Drogba will, of course, go down as one of Chelsea's greatest ever signings but former boss Jose Mourinho has recently revealed his desire to sign the powerful forward was initially questioned by the club's hierarchy.

Mourinho, who was managing Porto when he first spotted Drogba in a Champions League tie with Marseille in October 2003, opened up about his first encounter with the Ivorian.

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"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.'"

Image credit: PA
Image credit: PA
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Mourinho later joined Chelsea but he hadn't forgotten about Drogba, although others at Stamford Bridge weren't as eager to sign him up.

"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..."

Image credit: PA
Image credit: PA

The rest, as they say, is history.

Topics: Marseille, Jose Mourinho, Chelsea, Premier League, ivory coast

Jack Kenmare
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