The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word hero as "a name given to men of superhuman strength, courage, or ability, favoured by the gods; at a later time regarded as intermediate between gods and men, and immortal."
Immortality might be stretching it a bit, but it is not for nothing that since Didier Drogba left Stamford Bridge in the summer Chelsea supporters have given a permanent home to a banner that simply reads: "Drogba legend."
Thanks to his numerous feats of strength and endurance, his extraordinary ability to bend fate and circumstance to his will and some genuinely godlike performances, that is precisely what Drogba became in 2012: a legend. And not the Tim Lovejoy kind of legend, but a proper, mythical hero.
A glorious Olympic year taught us that elite sport is all about peaking at just the right time, seizing the moment when it materialises in front of you, even if you've had to wait four years for the chance. But perhaps the most intense distillation of destiny came not in Stratford's Olympic Stadium, but in Munich's Allianz Arena in May.
Deep into the Munich night, after 120 nerve-shredding minutes had failed to separate Chelsea and Bayern Munich in the Champions League final, Bastian Schweinsteiger struck his penalty against the post. ED, sat up in the press tribune, allowed its gaze to flick to the halfway line, where Drogba started making his way towards a towering wall of noisy Munich supporters, hanging ominously over the frame of the goal where Manuel Neuer stood.
It was an electric moment - hairs on the back of the neck stuff. Here was Drogba, in his final game for the club, being given the chance to confirm Chelsea as London's first ever European Cup winners with his last ever kick in blue. An eight-year career in English football - encompassing triumph, disaster and controversy - would come down to this. His reputation would forever be founded on this moment - just ask John Terry, victim of a sodden and treacherous...
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