Didier Drogba will make his first appearance in front of the Hongkou crowd at half-time during the Shanghai Shenhua – Beijing Guoan “China Derby” on Saturday, the club have confirmed.
But unfortunately for those of a blue persuasion, the Chelsea legend will be making a walk about on the pitch only, and not taking part in the match itself, as he arrives in China very early the same morning, before being officially unveiled during a press conference in the afternoon.
Also taking to the pitch with Drogba will be club owner Zhu Jun, although thankfully he won’t be playing either, just holding court as the world soccer superstar says a few words to the fans. Shanghai media sources suggest Drogba’s wife and three children may also accompany him onto the pitch.
Fan response to the news was unusually sceptical. Shenhua followers, perhaps jaded and burned by Anelka’s failure to improve the sides fortune, greeted the news on weibo with black humour. Some of the more interesting comments are translated below:
“Football is a game of 11 players, we can’t rely on the talents of one or two individuals, its not tennis!”
“Now that he’s here, can he solve all our problems?
“He’s just waving to the fans, it’s uninteresting.”
“Each wave must cost money!”.
“He’s waving to say to us “Hi, I’m looking forward to playing in the second division next year!”
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015