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Phoenix Rising’s Didier Drogba to retire at the end of 2018

Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba waits on the sidelines during the group C World Cup soccer match between Ivory Coast and Japan at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Saturday, June 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Didier Drogba, the player who has an ownership stake in Phoenix Rising FC and helped popularize soccer in the Valley, announced he will retire at the end of the 2018 season.

Drogba, a former star on the Chelsea Football Club, made his professional soccer debut with Le Mans FC, a French club, in 1998 before he landed on London’s Chelsea team in 2004. He was in London for eight seasons, appearing in 226 games through 2012.

The 39-year-old won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and a title in the Union of European Football Association.

He is also the leading goalscorer in the Ivory Coast’s history with 65 goals in 104 appearances.

“Ah, do you want a scoop? I think next year will be my last season,” Drogba told RMC Sport in a conversation translated by NBC Sports. “At some point, you have to stop. I need to have time for my other projects. It’s good to play, but at 39, it holds me back a bit.”

In April 2017, the forward signed a deal with Phoenix Rising FC where he also became a part-owner of the team.

He played 14 games for Phoenix Rising this season.