Before Chelsea legend Didier Drogba became a household name worldwide, he announced himself to England by breaking the hearts of Newcastle supporters.
A Premier League great at Stamford Bridge, Drogba’s career kicked off in France when a dominant UEFA Cup display in 2004 caught the attention of Roman Abramovich.
Born in the Ivory Coast, Drogba made his professional debut with French side Le Mans in 1998, before switching to Guingamp, but it was Marseille where he hit the headlines.
A goalless European semi-final first leg at St James Park convinced Newcastle a final could be on the cards when they took on the French giants at the Stade Velodrome, but then Drogba took over.
The Champions League winner toyed with the Magpies defence for a first half breakaway opener, before ending the game with eight minutes to play by tucking in past Shay Given from a neat set piece routine.
Marseille went on to lose the UEFA Cup final to Rafael Benitez’ Valencia, but has already taken down a Newcastle side bustling with talent in the shape of Alan Shearer, Gary Speed, and talkSPORT host Darren Ambrose.
Talking about the now-named Europa League, Ambrose stumbled across Marseille as a potential winner of this year’s tournament, and was reminded of that night by co-host Adrian Durham.
“I don’t want to talk about Marseille no, it does [still hurt],” Ambrose said.
“You know what, I got to three semi-finals in my career, four actually, counting the U20 tournament for England, and lost them all, but that one hurts the most.
“Newcastle supporters will tell you, the squad we had then we should have won that tournament, and Didier Drogba broke our hearts, I’m telling you.
“I was third penalty taker or fourth penalty taker so I was a bit nervous then and he came on and scored so potentially did me a favour!”
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