Chelsea legend Didier Drogba has suggested that he is likely to call time on his illustrious playing career in just 12 months’ time when the 2018 United Soccer League season concludes next November.
Drogba is currently with Phoenix Rising, where he is also a part-owner, and has admitted that age is finally catching up with him when asked about the retirement question this week.
Drogba’s Phoenix, who also count Shaun Wright-Phillips and ex-Newcastle defender Peter Ramage among their ranks, were knocked out in the first round of the 2017 playoffs. The season finished on Monday when Louisville City beat Swope Park Rangers in the USL Championship.
Although there is no promotion or relegation between leagues in North American soccer, USL is seen as being one level below Major League Soccer, and equal to the rival North American Soccer League (NASL), which features clubs like New York Cosmos and Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Speaking to RMC, the Drogba commented, “I think next year will be my last season.”
He added, “At some point you have to stop. I need to have time for my other projects. It’s good to play, but at 39 [age] holds me back a bit.”
The USL season typically begins in March of each year. The regular season concludes in mid-October, while the playoffs then run from the end of October until the middle of November.
It means that if Drogba, who scored nine times in 14 total appearances for Phoenix in 2017, will have at most one full year left as a professional player. As part-owner, it is likely he will continue to have an active role in the running of the franchise, as well as other business interests.
In recent days, the Ivorian has been linked with a return to former club Chelsea in some of kind of technical role following the resignation of Technical Director Michael Emenalo earlier this month. He has also been linked with a potential to return to Marseille, another former club.