Didier Drogba joins Phoenix Rising as co-owner and player.

Didier Drogba co-owners Phoenix Rising.

Didier Drogba, 39, has joined United Soccer League side Phoenix Rising as a player and co-owner.

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Didier Drogba, 39, has joined United Soccer League side Phoenix Rising as a player and co-owner.

The Ex-Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba will start out as a player but has also joined Phoenix’s “MLS expansion franchise ownership group”. He has not played since leaving Major League Soccer club Montreal Impact in November.

In a statement, Drogba said, “To own a team and be a player at the same time is unusual but it’s going to be very exciting.”

“It’s a good transition because I want to carry on playing but I’m almost 40 and it’s important for me to prepare for my later career.”

The Major League Soccer team have just started their fourth season in the Western Conference of USL, which forms part of the second tier of the American league system with the hope to become one of four planned expansion teams in MLS over the next three years.

The Ex-Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker told The Premier League Show that, “I had offers from China, from England – in both the Premier League and even the Championship – but they were only as a player.”.

“This was the right offer because it was important for me to think about playing, because I enjoy it, but also to get to the next stage of my career.”

The 39-year-old scored 157 goals in 341 appearances during his first spell at Chelsea from 2004 to 2012, winning three Premier League titles and the Champions League.

Further to his moves to Shanghai Shenhua in China and Turkish side Galatasaray, Drogba returned to the Blues for the 2014-15 season, scoring seven goals in 40 appearances, helping Jose Mourinho’s side to the title, before 18 months with Montreal.

Drogba, 39 joins former Chelsea team-mate Shaun Wright-Phillips at Phoenix, who have one win and two defeats from three games this season.

“I’m still a player but it’s important to respect the decision of the manager,” added Drogba, who is Ivory Coast’s record goalscorer.

“When we’re on the pitch, he’s going to be the one who decides and when we go to board meetings, it’s a different thing.”


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