Seven Shades of... Didier Drogba
The Carling Cup Final last Sunday didn't show itself in the best of lights thanks to the mass brawl that ensued near its end, but two players did avoid the fisticuffs and covered themselves in glory as they did so. Chelsea's Didier Drogba scored twice to win the match while Arsenal's Theo Walcott scored his first goal for the club in reply.
Let's connect the two in our usual spurious fashion...Didier Drogba
or ‘Top Drog’ as he’s known to many of his fans, currently leads the way as top goalscorer in the FA Premier League. Though born in the Ivory Coast, he began his footballing career in France playing for Le Mans, Guingamp and Marseille. The man who signed him for the latter of these wasAlain Perrin,
one-time manager of Portsmouth. Though he helped the south coast club avoid relegation towards the end of the 2004/05 season, he failed to start 2005/06 in a convincing fashion and was sacked eight months after his arrival at Fratton Park. Christened ‘Reggie’ by fans and popular press alike after the TV sitcom character of the same name, he was succeeded in the manager’s position byHarry Redknapp
who had done the job once before in 2002. Harry Redknapp not only played for and managed Bournemouth but achieved the same feat with West Ham United with whom he started out as a player. Redknapp’s playing days ended in 1979 at another London club, Brentford, as was the case forStan Bowles.
‘Stan the Man’ was a cult hero of the 1970’s and was well-known to like a bet or two. This was once shown in a match he played for QPR against Sunderland at Roker Park in 1973. The home team had recently won the FA Cup and were displaying it on a pitch-side table when Bowles accepted a financially-induced challenge from one of his team-mates. Could anybody knock the Cup off the table by kicking the ball at it? Stan Bowles did with a fearsome drive that understandably outraged the Sunderland fans. He went on to score two in the match, reinforcing his image as the natural replacement forRodney Marsh
at Queens Park Rangers. Marsh wasn’t so good when it came to bets. As a Sky Sports pundit, he offered to have his hair cut off if Bradford City avoided relegation in 2000 and suggested Wigan fans could put him in stocks and throw rotten tomatoes at him if their side didn’t win more than seven games in the 2005/06 season. Marsh got both wrong, although he was later spared the rotten tomato treatment. Marsh shares the same birthday, October 11th, withSir Bobby Charlton,
scorer of 199 goals for Manchester United and 49 goals for England. Charlton is simply one of the greatest English footballers that ever lived. Having survived the Munich air disaster that ended the lives of many of his United team mates in 1958, he went on to win a World Cup winner's medal in 1966 and a European Cup winner's medal in 1968. He still holds the record for most England goals and most appearances for Manchester United, all of which earned him a much-deserved place in the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002, four years ahead of Arsene Wenger, current manager of an Arsenal side featuringTheo Walcott.
Although the 17-year-old is yet to reach the heights of Sir Bobby, he can at least claim to have done something he didn't, and that's play in and score during a League Cup Final. Let's hope in years to come we can say he spearheaded an England campaign that resulted in a World Cup Final win just like Charlton did. (Well we can dream, can't we?)
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