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Football: China bows down to 'Devil Beast' Drogba

Published on Aug 14, 2012 7:28 PM
This photo taken on July 14, 2012 shows Shanghai Shenhua football fans holding up pictures of former Chelsea football star Didier Drogba before his arrival at Pudong international airport in Shanghai. A month after superstar Didier Drogba joined China's Shanghai Shenhua as one of the world's highest-paid footballers, his previously struggling side are unbeaten since and creeping up the table. -- PHOTO: AFP

SHANGHAI (AFP) - Didier Drogba's first month in China is being heralded as an unequivocal success, the powerful Ivory Coast striker earning rave reviews, the moniker "Devil Beast" and being compared to "a nuclear bomb".

The 34-year-old became one of the world's highest-paid players when he swapped European Champions League winners Chelsea for the relative obscurity of the ambitious Shanghai Shenhua, in China's Super League.

Vocal in English football, Drogba has kept a low profile off the pitch since arriving in China to a hero's welcome in mid-July, insisting that his reported 200,000 pounds (S$391,100) a week was not the main motivation. "China is a big sports country and it is a big challenge," said Drogba on his arrival, fresh from scoring the goal which won Chelsea the Champions League.

"For me it would have been easy to go to another team in Europe but I chose China because of the challenge." Drogba got off to a flying start at struggling Shenhua - then 12th in the 16-team Super League - scoring twice on his home debut in the 5-1 thrashing of longtime rivals Hangzhou Greentown and quickly earning the tag "Devil Beast".

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