How Chelsea legend Didier Drogba saved Hearts star Uche Ikpeazu’s career

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Hearts star Uche Ikpeazu is currently in the midst of recovering from a foot injury as he aims to return to action early in the new year.

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Uche Ikpeazu used Didier Drogba for inspiration when younger. Picture: SNS/Craig Foy

Uche Ikpeazu used Didier Drogba for inspiration when younger. Picture: SNS/Craig Foy

Yet, despite the difficulties of having to miss a chunk of the season after a fine start to his career at Tynecastle where he became an influential player this is not the toughest moment on his football journey.

Earlier in his career, the 23-year-old was questioning his future in football, considering packing it all in after being released from Watford.

However, he found a saviour in a book and Chelsea legend Didier Drogba.

“The low point was when Watford released me and I didn’t have a club for months,” he told the Scottish Sun. “I’d played all my career in League One, but I found myself struggling to get a place at a League Two club.

“Didier Drogba was my hero. I loved him to bits. He’s everything you want in a striker and I’ve always tried to model my game on him.

“Around the time I didn’t have a club, his book came out. It inspired me so much and taught me I had to knuckle down.

“You saw him in the Premier League, but you didn’t know the effort he’d put in. When I read his book I was like ‘Wow, he’s really worked hard’. He talked about his struggles. He went into clubs believing he was going to sign and then they didn’t want him. There were so many parallels with my story.

“He made his breakthrough late on and the message that came across was it’s never too late. That coincided with my own situation and so my journey continued.

“Reading isn’t something I like doing, but because it was Drogba I had to read it. Without him realising it, he’s done so much for me. He’s a role model and his book made the penny drop for me. I loved it.”

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