Didier Drogba has decided against staying at Champions League winners Chelsea for another season, according to reports in France.
The striker has been quoted saying he informed his team-mates of his decision during the club's open-top bus parade yesterday after leading them to the greatest moment in their history on Saturday night.
Drogba, who has reportedly already agreed a deal to join Shanghai Shenhua when his Chelsea contract expires this summer, is said to have admitted he struggled to get the words out and burst into tears.
"We will no longer be together next season," the 34-year-old said in quotes attributed to France Football magazine.
"As I decided to leave, I wanted to tell them straight in the eye.
"Except that I could not do it. They made me crack.
"Even though it's been three years since I said I wanted to leave, I find it hard to admit that it's over with this club - especially as I did not feel like this.
"But I could not see myself sitting on the bench to watch others play when the club plans to set up a new team.
"So that's it - I am preparing for my leap into the unknown. It's going to be another adventure."
Drogba's departure would put a dampener on the jubilant Champions League celebrations of most of Chelsea's players and fans, who engaged in chants of, "Didier Drogba, we want you to stay", during yesterday's open-top bus parade.
The Blues hierarchy had said they planned to sit down with the Ivory Coast star after Saturday's final in a bid to agree a contract extension.
Whether they still make an 11th-hour attempt to keep him in the wake of his reported quotes remains to be seen.
But it has been suggested that even if Drogba does perform a dramatic U-turn, Chelsea may need to pay Shanghai some sort of compensation, with the forward reportedly having already agreed a £250,000-a-week deal with the Chinese club.
The player has long been linked with a move to the far east after contract talks with the Blues broke down last year.
Drogba snubbed the offer of a one-year extension, while Chelsea refused to bow to his demands for a two-year deal.
The stalemate was allowed to continue right up until Saturday's final, which saw Drogba once again prove he was the man for the big occasion with a dramatic late equaliser and winning penalty-shootout strike against Bayern Munich.
That appeared to be because Chelsea had decided they were ready to move on from Drogba and build what is often been referred to as a "hungry, young team" - one more in the mould of vanquished European champions Barcelona.
One man unlikely to shed a tear at Drogba's leaving party is Fernando Torres, the man billionaire Blues owner Roman Abramovich spent a record £50million on as the Ivorian's long-term replacement.
Torres became the latest Chelsea striker to be put in his place by Drogba and his frustrations boiled over after they were crowned kings of Europe, the 28-year-old attacking the club's treatment of him and threatening to quit.
The Spain star was seeking reassurance over his future role - one that could well be more prominent once Drogba is out of the picture.
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what do you think?
Such a shame. Damn fine actor leaves to take up a career in football instead.
Paul Tinker....... spurs fan maybe!!!!!!
Paul Tinker.... Actual football fan maybe...
Good luck to one of the best strikers in the world, a great servant to CHELSEA FC and his commitment to his foundations.
Agreed, what a player, sheer class, genuine guy. No sour grapes from me, I'm a Wolves supporter, but I wish we had more like him!
Liverpool Justin........The Oscars will not be the same without him.
like that ,made me laugh..............
I think drogba is one of the biggest game players i have ever seen..
At least Tom Daley stands a chance of a gold medal now!
Wish him best luck to the future! Gonna miss him :(
Saw Didier Drogba in a new light with his charity foundation work for the poor of his country. He may be a better diver than Tom Daley but credit were credit's due. He gives every penny from ALL of his sponsorships to his foundation to help those who are less fortunate than himself. Good on Ya Didier. Hope your move to Shanghai serves you and your supporters well. (A Liverpool Fan)
Genius comment Paul. Oscar performances week in, week out of a man being shot by pesky snipers in the crowd.......
The team will not be the same without Didier. He is world class and Chelsea will have to look very hard to replace a legend. As for Torres he needs now to prove himself for up to now I think he is a weak link in the chain. Didier Drogba you will be missed. Loved every minute that you have spent at Chelsea, sad times :(
Hes done good all round!! just hope they honered his farewell from the club, a public statement would have been nice!! Good luck in your fountation charity work friend.
9 Cup Finals.......9 Goals........ Follow that! You're a legend Didier!
Oh well Paul never mind......at least you will have something to watch on tv Thursday nights!!!!!