Player name: Didier Yves Drogba
Clubs: Le Mans, Guingamp, Marseille, Chelsea, Shanghai Shenhua, Galatasaray, Chelsea, Montreal Impact, Phoenix Rising
Country: Ivory Coast
Height: 6 ft 2 in
Didier Drogba is an Ivorian retired professional footballer who played as a striker. He is the all-time top scorer and former captain of the Ivory Coast national team. He is best known for his career at Chelsea, for whom he has scored more goals than any other foreign player and is currently the club's fourth highest goal scorer of all time. Widely regarded as one of Chelsea's greatest ever players, Drogba was named in the Chelsea team of the 2010–2020 decade by Chelsea's fans. He was named African Footballer of the Year twice, winning the accolade in 2006 and 2009.
In July 2004, Drogba moved to Premier League club Chelsea for a club record £24 million fee, making him the most expensive Ivorian player in history. In his debut season he helped the club win their first league title in 50 years, and a year later he won another Premier League title. His displays saw him named in the FIFA World XI for 2007. In March 2012, he became the first African player to score 100 Premier League goals. Just two months later, he scored in Chelsea's 2012 FA Cup Final win over Liverpool to become the first (and as of 2017, the only) player to score in four separate FA Cup finals. He also played in the 2012 UEFA Champions League Final, in which he scored an 88th-minute equaliser and the winning penalty in the deciding shoot-out against Bayern Munich. After spending 6 months with Shanghai Shenhua in China, and one and a half seasons with Turkish club Galatasaray where he scored the winning goal in the final of the 2013 Turkish Super Cup, Drogba returned to Chelsea in July 2014. With a career record of scoring 10 goals in 10 finals winning 10 trophies at club level, Drogba has been referred to as the "ultimate big game player." He joined Canadian club Montreal Impact in 2015 as a Designated Player and played 41 matches over two seasons, scoring 23 goals. Drogba became a player–owner for Phoenix Rising of the United Soccer League in 2017, and retired a year later at the age of 40.
Here we have a pair of the big mans' custom made and match issued Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly iii football boots, which are from the 2010-11 season when he was playing for Chelsea FC - one of the best seasons of his career. Drogba was an avid Mercurial wearer throughout his career, and as one of Nike's highest profile players wearing the silo during his prime years, his versions were completely modified and practically incomparable to what you and I could buy in retail stores. As these were originally donated to the Small Steps charity foundation back in 2011 to raise money for poor children, Didier also hand signed this pair on each boot in a beautiful, stunningly clear and unrushed signature (he is known to be lazy with his autographs!).
One of the best and most significant changes Didier made to his Superfly iii's was to the soleplate. His one is completely different to anything available at the time, and indeed ever, this stud configuration has still to date never been available on any boot Nike has ever released to the public - an incredibly rare elite player exclusive soleplate. The standard Superfly iii was only ever available to the public in the FG variation with the Sense Stud technology, SG was never sold by Nike to the general population. They did however produce a 6-stud SG configuration which was available to pro's only.
An Ivory Coast international between 2002 and 2014, Drogba captained the national team from 2006 until his retirement from the Ivory Coast team and is the nation's all-time top goalscorer with 65 goals from 105 appearances. He led the Ivory Coast to the 2006 FIFA World Cup, their first appearance in the tournament, and also scored their first goal. He later captained the Ivory Coast at the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups. He was part of the Ivory Coast teams that reached the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2006 and 2012, but were beaten on penalties on both occasions. On 8 August 2014, he announced his retirement from international football. In 2018, Drogba retired from professional football at the age of 40. Afterwards, on 11 December, he became Vice President of the international organisation Peace and Sport.
This special hybrid mixed stud configuration was given to a handful of Nike's top sponsored players at the time. As well as Drogba, the likes of CR7, Zlatan, Gotze, Neymar, Pato and Robinho were on that very short list of elite players who were allowed to use it. This custom soleplate has seemingly been designed using the Superfly 1 plate as a starting point, judging by the position of the FG studs. They are however less aggressive with blunter edges, and without the holes found on the FG studs of the Superfly 1 soleplate. The flex in the forefoot area is also massively different to the stiff retail version Superfly iii soleplate, however from the midfoot back to the heel it is the opposite, with additional reinforcement so there is no flex in those areas at all.
The rear 4 studs are actually set further in from the back of the heel than on the retail version mixed stud Mercurial soleplates that Nike first released on the Vapor VIII. It's also worth noting that the aluminium studs themselves are also a player exclusive, with them being different to what is publicly available. They feature a plate which essentially sits in between the stud itself and the sole, acting as a shock absorber - a lot of Nike's elite players have used these over the years.
Another modification made to the soleplate is that the spikes at the toe off area have been completely removed/shaved off. This area did actually feature on the retail version soleplate, this was a feature inspired by athletics sprinters footwear, and Nike claimed that it aided in acceleration... but clearly Drogba wasn't convinced.
In his FG Mercurial's, Drogba was always known for wearing the same soleplate right the way through pretty much the entirety of his career. He has previously said himself that he loved the Vapor ii soleplate, and so Nike made him that configuration on all of his FG pairs regardless of which Mercurial model it was being applied to, and from 2008 they did this for him with full length carbon fibre. As he was one of Nike's top players, he had the option of wearing what he wanted.
With this pair being custom made to measure in Nike's Athlete Services factory in Montebelluna, Itay, they feature no size labels as they are completely bespoke to the players' feet. However, we have measured them to be around a size UK11 / US12 with a very narrow fit.
The upper of Didier's Superfly iii's also features a lot of customisation in comparison to the retail models, which is to be expected as lets be honest, the standard pairs were rock solid. Drogba's custom upper is unbelievably soft, the polar opposite of the retail version, and due to this Nike have added FlyWire cables for him in the toe box area to add some structure - a common modification, among the very elite pro's who it was available to, on this model and its predecessor.
Given his relatively late breakthrough into professional football, Drogba has often been described as a late bloomer, having signed his first professional contract with Le Mans at the age of 21. He was noted for his physical strength, speed, ability in the air, powerful and accurate strikes, and his ability to retain possession of the ball. Richard Beech of the Daily Mirror says that his "powerful and intrusive approach made him the lone striker José Mourinho grew to admire, and made it nearly impossible for opposing teams to isolate him and freeze him out of the game."
Nike have personalised this pair by embroidering his name and squad number "Drogba 11" into the outstep area of each boot, which is what he always had on his boots throughout his career. Fairly simplistic in comparison to what some players have added to their pairs.
From the angle above, it is visibly clear just how soft the upper is by looking at the creases in the instep area. When considering that this pair have not been worn, it is especially noticeable just how different the upper is in comparison to the retail variant, which even once broken in and worn several times would be incomparable to the quality of Drogba's pair.
Drogba is renowned for performing in big games, with a goalscoring record at club level of 10 goals in 10 finals winning 10 trophies. Aside from his goalscoring ability, Drogba is also capable of providing assists to his teammates. Between the 2009–10 and 2011–12 seasons, he managed 24 assists in the Premier League, with an average pass success rate of 61.4 percent, owing to his vision and creativity on the ball. He provided 71 assists to teammates over the course of his entire career at Chelsea until May 2012, showing that he is also a team player. In set pieces, Drogba has also been known for his free kick ability, known to strike the ball with power and pace.