African Union at Stamford Bridge
Africa loves its heroes and the African union at Chelsea is no expectation.
Chelsea face Bayern Munich this Saturday in Munich in the final of the 2011/2012 UEFA Champions League with a hint of African flavour in their side when they face the Bavarian giants.
Led by Cote d’Ivoire striker Didier Drogba, who arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2003 under Claudio Ranieri, the club has become one of African football’s reference points in the English Premiership.
His arrival from Marseille that saw him flourish under Jose Mourinho sparked even greater African interest in the team.
Drogba's influence during the Mourinho era is undisputed, inspiring the London side to two league and cup titles.
In Europe, Drogba's gone on to be a legend and has become Chelsea's highest scorer in the Champions League with 33 goals.
Drogba's compatriot and fellow striker Solomon Kalou, Super Eagles midfielder Mikel Obi and Black Stars midfielder Michael Essien have helped enhance Chelsea’s favour in Africa.
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s relationship with Africa stretches back over two decades.
South African-born striker Mark Stein played at Stamford Bridge between 1993 to 1998 where he was joined by compatriot and defender Pierre Issa.
Celestine Babayaro, however, was one of the first high profile signings who played there from 1997-2005 whom he joined from Anderlecht in Belgium.
His arrival at Chelsea, where he made over 132 appearances, sparked greater interest in Chelsea during a period when African players in the Premiership were beginning to sow their reputation.
However, Chelsea’s reputation for embracing Africans was further enhanced when one George Weah, who arrived on loan from AC Milan in the 1999/2000 season, but he never made his deal permanent before moving to Manchester City.