Phoenix Rising Football Club has signed Ivorian striker Didier Drogba who is also expected to take an executive role at the club.
As part of the deal, Drogba will help develop the team as a player before advancing to an executive role with the Phoenix MLS expansion franchise.
The club is currently in its fourth season in the United Soccer League (USL), the largest division II league in the world. Per club and USL policy, the financial terms of the contract will not be made public.
“We want our club and our city to be synonymous with international excellence, and Didier Drogba is a testament to Phoenix Rising FC’s commitment to that mission,” said Phoenix Rising Club Governor Berke Bakay in a statement on the club’s website.
“Soccer is an international language understood by sports fans all over the world, and we want to help inspire fluency among new fans every where we play throughout North America.”
Drogba is known as the ultimate big-game player, winning 17 trophies in 22 major finals, including four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, two Community Shields, one Turkish Süper Lig, one TurkishSüper Kupa and one Turkish Küpasi. He spent nine years, 2004-2012 and the 2014/15 seasons, at Chelsea FC, making a total of 381 appearances scoring 161 goals. In 2012, he was part of Chelsea’s greatest ever achievement in winning the coveted UEFA Champions League trophy. Drogba scored the equalizing goal, the game-winning penalty, and was chosen “Man-of-the-Match” at the UEFA Champions League Final.
On the international stage, Drogba has appeared in 106 matches and scored 66 career goals for the Ivory Coast. He led his national team to its first World Cup appearance in 2006 hosted in Germany and scored the country’s first World Cup goal. He later captained the Ivory Coast in the 2010 (South Africa) and 2014 (Brazil) FIFA World Cups. Drogba is the Ivory Coast’s all-time leading goal scorer.
“I have taken my time in deciding what I wanted to do next and am really excited about the opportunity at Phoenix Rising FC,” Drogba said. “After seeing first hand the potential for expansion of the sport in North America and getting to know the ownership group in Phoenix, I am convinced that I can help them develop their organization on and off the pitch. I look forward to their continued success in the USL, and no city is better positioned than Phoenix for expansion into the MLS.”
“The USL is a league on the rise, and today we welcome global superstar Didier Drogba, who joins the growing number of elite, world-class players and rising young talent who choose to make our league their home,” said USL President Jake Edwards. “I also applaud Didier’s commitment to further the overall growth of the game in North America. He will be a great ambassador for our sport, using his experience, talent and vision to benefit fans, as well as fellow players. His invaluable mentorship will guide our young stars in the locker room and on the field, contributing to the future success of our league and the game for years to come.”