Neil Warnock recently revealed his one that got away: None other than Chelsea legend Didier Drogba. Despite being early on in his managerial career, missing out on Drogba still haunts the manager to this day.
Speaking on TalkSport, Neil Warnock cast his mind all the way back to his time at Sheffield United in the early 2000s. One of his players, Frenchman Laurent D’Jaffo, tipped off Warnock about an emerging talent across the English Channel.
“The main one was early in my career,” Warnock explains. “I had a French lad, Laurent D’Jaffo, who said to me: ‘Gaffer, I’ve seen a player for you in the second division in France, very good, £100,000.’”
The fee put off Warnock, as £100,000 was a significant amount to give up for an unknown player. Financial balances were critical, as the Blades were in the Championship at the time.
“I said: ‘£100,000? That’s a lot for a second-division French player. We [Sheffield United] can’t pay £100,000 for a second division French player. What’s his name?’ He [D’Jaffo] said: ‘Drogba’”.
The timeline on Warnock’s story does match up. Drogba was plying his trade in the French second division, moving to EA Guingamp in January 2002. D’Jaffo was at Sheffield United from 2000 to 2002 therefore there was a window of opportunity for the Frenchman to give Warnock the intel on Drogba.
Warnock rued the missed chance. “You all know what happened to him in the end, Drogba. That was my biggest.
“I don’t think I could have had a bigger loss than that one.”
Didier Drogba: Chelsea hero
Everyone knows what happened to Drogba in the end.
The Ivory Coast international moved to Chelsea from Marseille in 2004 and established himself as a formidable striker.
He currently sits fourth all-time on Chelsea’s scoring list, leading the line through one of the London club’s most successful periods.
Drogba won four Premier League titles and four FA Cups with the blues. However, his instrumental impact on Chelsea’s improbable run to victory in the 2012 Champions League cemented Drogba’s status as a Chelsea legend.
Neil Warnock must undoubtedly kick himself at missing out on such an incredible player. Didier Drogba was definitely Warnock’s ‘one that got away.’