Diego Costa has credited club great Didier Drogba for helping to make his Chelsea career a success.
Drogba won 10 major trophies in his first spell at Stamford Bridge, culminating in him scoring the decisive penalty as Chelsea beat Bayern Munich on spot-kicks in the 2012 Champions League final.
He returned for the 2014-15 campaign following brief stints with Shanghai Shenhua and Galatasaray, alongside Costa – a £32million arrival from Atletico Madrid who consigned the veteran to bench duty as he added League Cup and Premier League medals to his collection.
In an interview with Chelsea TV, the Spain international detailed how Drogba showed no ego and offered plenty of advice when it became clear he would be cast in a supporting role, leaving him to revel in the company of a player he had long admired.
“I have always seen Drogba as the example to follow in terms of a centre-forward,” Costa said. “He was strong and scored loads of goals and he was a quality player.
“Just watching him train helped me. Just seeing him, I was amazed. This is because – and I’m not making this up at all – I specifically used to watch Chelsea [before he joined], who are obviously a big club, just to see Drogba.
“He was famous and everyone would talk about him. I even liked watching him when he played for the Ivory Coast.
“When I arrived here, he was never cold with me, quite the opposite. I wasn’t exactly scared of him, but he was such a legend who had helped the club grow and been a part of all that.
“He made history here, so could have been dismissive of me but, no, he was always fantastic with me. I will always have fond memories of him and whenever I see him, I thank him. It’s not always easy for someone with so much history to be in that position.
“I was playing well, scoring goals, and he would support and motivate me, whereas others might not have done the same. I take my hat off to him.”
Having faltered in 2015-16, Costa is back on form for Chelsea this time around, scoring 15 times in 22 Premier League appearances for the top flight’s runaway leaders.