LONDON — Didier Drogba rejoined Chelsea on Friday, reuniting one of football’s most theatrical characters with flamboyant manager Jose Mourinho.
The 36-year-old Ivory Coast international, who was a free agent after spells with Shanghai Shenhua and Galatasaray, signed a season-long contract with the Premier League club.
“It was an easy decision. I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to work with Jose again,” Drogba said. “Everyone knows the special relationship I have with this club, and it has always felt like home to me.
“My desire to win is still the same, and I look forward to the opportunity to help this team. I am excited for this next chapter of my career.”
Drogba won the 2012 Champions League title for Chelsea, scoring the decisive penalty in the shootout against Bayern Munich on the last kick in his last game for the club. During eight years at Chelsea, Drogba also won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups after being signed by Mourinho in 2004 from Marseille.
Now Mourinho, who was away from Chelsea between 2007 and 2013, is reshaping the team after failing to win a trophy in his first season back at Stamford Bridge. Drogba is the proven scorer Mourinho desperately craved last season, with 157 goals in 341 appearances.
“He’s coming because he’s one of the best strikers in Europe,” Mourinho said. “I know his personality very well, and I know if he comes back, he’s not protected by history or what he’s done for this club previously. He is coming with the mentality to make more history.”
Drogba was Chelsea’s man for the big occasions, contributing nine goals in nine finals, but he also is one of the game’s most inflammatory players. He has infuriated rivals fans with what they view as a habit of diving and enraged referees with his aggressive foul-mouthed conduct, earning several bans from UEFA.