Former Chelsea striker and African footballer Didier Drogba is heading to Phoenix Arizona in an ambitious move to become the first footballer to co-own and play for the team at the same time. The Ivorian star will co-own Arizona’s Phoenix Rising FC, a second-tier USL team in a bid to boost its exposure and help move it to MLS.
According to reports, Drogba made the decision to buy a stake ownership in US Football Club Phoenix Rising after getting advice from his former boss and Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich. So far, he has rejected several offers from several Premier League clubs to extend his career in favour of becoming part of a ten-men consortium planning to establish the Phoenix franchise in US MSL competition.
When asked about his role in Rising, Didier Drogba indicated, “As far as coaching aspect goes, I’m there as a player. There’s no way I can say to the manager that he has to play me. I’m not going to interfere in his decisions or his responsibilities.”
We went on to say, “As a co-owner, I will have a say on things like new signings and making proposals about what is best for the club.
“I will carry on playing but my main focus is building and helping Phoenix to become a big team in the MLS.
“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 in a statement.
“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 39-year old ex-Ivory Coast skipper last played for Canada’s Montréal Impact in MLS last season. Drogba has proven to be a persuasive force and United Soccer League (USL) feels his presence would boost its exposure. It’s not surprising that Rising wants to utilize that pulling power to put together a winning squad with Drogba’s profile as the key.
“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 Berke Bakay, the governor of Phoenix.
“He will be a great ambassador or our sport, using his experience, talent and vision to benefit fans as well as fellow players,” USL President Jake Edward said.
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