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Posted at 12:26 PM ET, 05/22/2012

Didier Drogba to leave Chelsea after lifting Blues to first Champions League title


What a way to go out. (Dylan Martinez - Reuters)

Three days after he lifted Chelsea to its first ever Champions League title, Didier Drogba announced he is leaving the Blues after eight years in London.

For all the sublime finishes he produced during that run, the 34-year-old Ivory Coast international will be most remembered for his last kick — the penalty that sealed Chelsea’s first European championship in a thrilling victory over Bayern Munich. Drogba’s header off a corner kick knotted the score late to send the game to extra time.

“I wanted to put an end to all the speculation and confirm that I am leaving Chelsea,” Drogba told the club’s Web site Tuesday. “It’s been a very difficult decision for me to make and I am very proud of what we have achieved but the time is right for a new challenge for me.”

The two-time African Player of the Year scored 157 goals in 341 appearances for Chelsea while helping the club to three Premier League titles and four FA Cups. Drogba was responsible for the game-winning goal (or penalty) in nine of Chelsea’s cup victories over the last seven seasons.

“As a team we have accomplished so much and have won every single trophy possible,” Drogba said. “Saturday night was a very special moment for everyone at the club and for all the fans, and I am very proud to have played my part in bringing many trophies to this club, which has been my home for the last eight years.”

Drogba is widely rumored to be headed for China where he could join former Chelsea teammate Nicolas Anekla at Shanghai Shenhua.

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