Soccer

Former Chelsea player Didier Drogba to train with Republic FC

Didier Drogba, shown at a training session in Montreal this month, is working out in Sacramento, where he can practice on grass instead of an artificial surface to protect his balky left knee.
Didier Drogba, shown at a training session in Montreal this month, is working out in Sacramento, where he can practice on grass instead of an artificial surface to protect his balky left knee. The Canadian Press

One of the most acclaimed strikers in soccer will be in Sacramento for the next few days to train with Republic FC on soft grass.

Didier Drogba, a former star scorer with the English Premier League club Chelsea, will be in Sacramento with his physiotherapist, according to the Montreal Impact, his present professional club.

Drogba wants to train with Republic FC on grass instead of artificial turf in cold Montreal. When the 37-year-old Drogba plays on an artificial surface, his left knee swells. His Major League Soccer team wants to decrease the risk of injury by avoiding artificial surfaces.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to host someone with the pedigree of Didier Drogba,” said Republic FC Director of Football Graham Smith in a news release. “He is a world-class player. For our players to see a master craftsman at close quarters is invaluable. We are pleased to be able to assist a club such as Montreal Impact of MLS and do our best to ensure Drogba is welcomed into the city. It is one more way for us to showcase Sacramento as a football capital.”

Smith previously served on the Board of Directors of Chelsea Football Club. There were no plans to allow the public to view Drogba during training, a Republic FC spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Drogba is the former captain of the Ivory Coast national team and perhaps is best known for his career at Chelsea, where he is the club’s fourth-highest scorer of all time with 164 goals.

Drogba is one of a number of former soccer stars lured from the EPL and other major European leagues. David Villa, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo joined NYCFC. Steven Gerrard left Liverpool for the L.A. Galaxy.

The Impact said on its website that “if everything goes well,” Drogba could be available March 19 in Dallas for the team’s third game of the season.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews

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