Ba: Drogba is my inspiration
New Chelsea striker Demba Ba says he has drawn inspiration from Didier Drogba to keep himself going along the circuitous career route which has eventually led to Stamford Bridge.
It looked most unlikely Drogba would eventually leave the Blues as European champion and voted the club's best-ever player when he was languishing in the Le Mans reserve team at the turn of the millennium. Ba, 27, started his career at Rouen and had largely unremarkable spells in Belgium and Germany before bursting to prominence - like Drogba - when he moved to England in 2011; two years later, he finds himself filling the Ivory Coast's striker's shoes.
"I've taken a lot of inspiration from Didier Drogba. Like me, he's had a career path strewn with obstacles, but he's got himself over them each time. Anyway, if you don't take risks in life, you get nowhere," Ba, who also bounced back from a failed medical at Stoke City to prove doctors and doubters wrong by scoring prolifically at West Ham United and Newcastle United, told Le Parisien newspaper.
"We're different players, but I have a lot of esteem for Didier. It's difficult to compare me to him given what he achieved at Chelsea. He's brought me a lot in my career, even if I'm aware of my own qualities."
That self-confidence did not stop the Senegalese international being slightly overawed on Friday when he took part in his first training session after the ink had barely dried on his freshly-signed three-and-a-half year contract.
"When you come into the training ground, you feel that you're coming into a special place. On Friday, I was one of the first into the dressing room. There, you see all these prestigious players coming in, and you say to yourself: 'I've arrived'."
He added: "They're great players, but they're still just men. I come here with a lot of respect for them, and I want to learn from them."
Given the explosive start to life at Chelsea, allied to the meteoric trajectory his career has taken in recent months, it seems Ba is an A-grade student. He took his season's tally to 15 in 26 appearances for club and country this season with a brace on his debut in last weekend's 5-1 FA Cup trouncing of Southampton, and clearly does not intend to stop there.
"I've taken a long road, not always easy, but that's helped me progress. When I sign somewhere, I never think too much about it: I know that I'll succeed. I take advantage of the qualities of my team-mates. It's easier at Chelsea given the quality of the players," he said, before sounding a warning to fellow striker, Fernando Torres.
"Each time I've arrived at a club, it's always been as back-up striker. And each time, through hard work, I've imposed myself."