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 By Ian Holyman

Phoenix Rising's Didier Drogba set to retire from playing next year

Didier Drogba
Didier Drogba made his professional debut at Le Mans in 1998.

Didier Drogba will finally hang up his boots in 2018 as he prepares to bring his 20-year professional career to an end, the former Chelsea striker has told RMC.

After leaving Montreal Impact following the end of the 2016 Major League Soccer season, Drogba, 39, became the first player-owner in the history of the game when he took over United Soccer League outfit Phoenix Rising FC in 2017.

The 2012 Champions League winner scored 10 goals in 14 regular season games to help his franchise into the USL playoffs, where they lost to eventual championship runners-up Swope Park Rangers.

Drogba believes he has another season left in him, but after making his professional debut at Le Mans in 1998, the ex-Ivory Coast international, who will turn 40 in March, acknowledged it will be his last.

"I think next year will be my last season. There comes a time when you have to stop," said Drogba, who is reportedly aiming to follow in David Beckham's footsteps and attempt to launch his own MLS franchise.

"I need time for my other projects. It's good to play, but at 39, it holds me back a bit."

Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman

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