LONDON - Chelsea’s defence of the European Cup may have fizzled out at the group stage this week but Didier Drogba moved to rekindle glorious memories of Munich on Thursday night by hosting a dinner in honour of his former team-mates’ Champions League victory back in May.
Drogba, whose last kick for the club was the decisive penalty in the shoot-out against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, organised the reunion at the Wyndham Grand hotel at Chelsea Harbour in recognition of the side’s achievements in claiming the trophy last season.
The 34-year-old, who is contracted to Shanghai Shenhua, presented his former team-mates and members of the backroom staff with commemorative rings, similar to those awarded to victorious players in Super Bowl finals, at a reported personal cost of around £800,000.
The rings were made by a US jewellery designer, Jason of Beverly Hills. Its CEO, Jason Arasheben, said: “It was an honour for us to work with Didier to make this historic championship ring that will set a new standard for all elite clubs throughout the football world.”
The event was attended by John Terry, David Luiz, Ryan Bertrand, Branislav Ivanovic, Paulo Ferreira, Daniel Sturridge and Ashley Cole, with invites having been extended to all members of the squad who had claimed the trophy under Roberto Di Matteo’s management.
The Italian, who was sacked last month and replaced by Rafael Benítez, was unable to attend and Frank Lampard, too, was absent with a long-standing charity commitment.
Neither Juan Mata nor Petr Cech was available and, although Fernando Torres had been expected, he was not at the dinner. However, Thursday was his son Leo’s second birthday and the striker is understood to have spent the evening with family. Drogba ‘who left Stamford Bridge upon the expiry of his contract last summer along with Salomon Kalou and José Bosingwa‘ scored 157 goals in 341 appearances for the London club and is training at their base in Cobham during the Chinese close season and ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations in the new year, where the veteran will captain Ivory Coast.
The European champions had hoped to secure him on a short-term extraordinary loan deal to ease the burden on Torres, only for Fifa to reject the proposition.