On Tuesday, football legend Didier Drogba announced he would be joining United Soccer League side Phoenix Rising as a player and co-owner.
Drogba, who has not played since leaving the Montreal Impact in November, is hoping to see the sport continue to flourish in America while also preparing for the next step in his career. He will begin as a player, but is also part of the club’s “MLS expansion franchise ownership group.”
“To own a team and be a player at the same time is unusual, but it’s going to be very exciting,” said Drogba. “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.”
Phoenix, who have recently begun their fourth season, are in the Western Conference of the USL, which makes up part of the second tier of the American League system.
Drogba hopes to play a big part in the club’s aspirations of becoming another MLS expansion team. The MLS is currently planning to add four teams to the league in the next three years.
Despite offers from China and England, Drogba believed this opportunity to be the most beneficial to his future.
“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,” said Drogba.
The Ivory Coast’s record goalscorer will link up with former Chelsea teammate Shaun Wright-Phillips in Phoenix.
If one thing is clear, it’s that Drogba wants to be around the game for a very long time.