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For me, a complete striker is someone who can create an assist as well as score – someone who can change the game within one action.
I am going to tell you how I became that type of player myself, but I don’t think there are many of them at this World Cup.
Some teams even prefer to play without a striker at all, but in the big moments I always think you need someone to finish the actions, as well as start them.
England have Harry Kane, who I love to I watch, but France’s Kylian Mbappe is the player who stands out as the being the best at doing all of those things I have mentioned, all together.
If you put Mbappe in a centre-forward’s position, he will score goals but still come back and try and make chances for other people – you can see he was doing that a lot in France’s first two games in Qatar.
He can expose defenders one-on-one with his pace but I think the fact he has played in different forward positions for his club, Paris St-Germain, has helped to make his game more rounded – to become more complete, if you like.
That is how it worked for me too. I became a complete striker, if you will allow me to call myself that, because I learned how to develop my game and give myself more tools to use on the pitch.
Mourinho asked me to change my game
When I joined Chelsea from Marseille in 2004, the manager Jose Mourinho asked me to play in a way that was different to what I had been doing in France.
With Marseille I was more about attacking the line, running forwards and really going into the space behind the defenders.
Instead, Jose wanted me to play in more of a holding position, to help the team get up the pitch.
I knew that if I didn’t adapt to his philosophy, I wouldn’t play. I wanted to be in the team, so I made the effort to change my game.
At Chelsea, I had to learn how to come backwards, towards the ball, to receive it.
That’s where I think some people under-estimate the intelligence of footballers, because firstly you need to be smart enough to realise what you need to do to be able to play, and then you have to apply it.
I wanted to go into training and for Jose to think ‘oh wow, this is exactly the player I want’ but I knew I needed to put a lot of effort in for that to happen.
That effort was not only about working hard, or looking after my body properly afterwards. To develop as a player and become a better striker I knew I had to use my brain too – to work out how to fit in with the team’s style, and enhance it.
So, when I came to Chelsea, I spent a lot of time watching a lot of different videos, studying my team-mates and the style of play of the manager – all to understand what he wanted, and as quickly as possible.
It worked and, as I got used to coming back for the ball, it gave me more options in games because I could drop back or run forward, depending on who I was playing and what the manager wanted me to do.
Who are the complete strikers now?
Right now, there are only a few players who do all of this. Mbappe’s France team-mate Olivier Giroud can do part of it, because he is a good finisher and always in a good position inside the box, but he is not too mobile.
I like Manchester City and Norway forward Erling Haaland, who is not at this World Cup, because he is an excellent finisher, and he can make long runs with the ball, but I still want to see him being a bit more creative as well. You cannot be a complete striker without doing that too.
Of course, when a striker is not scoring people quickly forget about these other parts of his game.
We are supposed to score goals, so when that doesn’t happen then people think there is a problem – like with, say, Harry Kane at the start of this World Cup.
I disagree. We all know Kane is a proven goalscorer and a guy who will destroy goalkeepers if you put him in the box, but I love what he is doing for England.
When I see him coming deep and being so involved in the game, holding the ball and releasing it, I love it. He is really smart, and he does so much good work for the team.
That is the most important thing, and it is exactly what Mourinho told me – well, he told the whole Chelsea team, really.
One day during my first season he put the team up before the game. I was up top, but he didn’t put the wingers’ names down. Instead there were question marks and he stood there and told us all: ‘I don’t know who can eat from this player?’
Everyone, including me was surprised. I was thinking ‘what is he doing? This guy is killing me.’.
But in fact he was telling those guys with the question marks that Didier is holding the ball, that he is coming to get it, to lay the ball off to you, but you have to use the space he leaves behind.
It is the same with England now. When Kane is coming deep, he is creating a space behind him for players to run into and for the wide players to attack, but they need to know that, every time, he is coming.
There is far more to Kane’s game than just goals
The question marks about who should play in this England team are the wide attackers, not Kane.
He cannot drop and help the team build play that way and also be there scoring goals, so the others have to do their bit too.
That’s what Arjen Robben, Joe Cole, Damien Duff and whoever played on the wings for me with Chelsea were always doing. And Frank Lampard in the middle too – when I was dropping deep, Frank was running past me as a striker and scoring goals.
People have complained that Kane has not had a shot on target in the first three games at this tournament but they said they same about me when I only scored 16 goals in my first season at Chelsea – and how many did I create with the spaces I made or by passes for my team-mates?
That is the value you get with a complete striker. It is not just about the goals they score, they bring much more.
Giroud didn’t score a goal at the last World Cup, but he is still a world champion, and the work he did meant Mbappe got goals and the team was successful.
So, it works. And, if England are winning, there is no need to give Kane a hard to time for not getting some goals himself.
Didier Drogba was speaking to Chris Bevan in Doha, Qatar
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