LONDON (AP)— Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has had malaria for a month and is only now regaining full strength because the illness was finally diagnosed on Monday.
Drogba told Chelsea TV on Wednesday that he had to “adapt” his game away from scoring goals to concentrate on his team play because the intermittent fevers brought on by the illness sapped his strength.
“When you don’t know exactly what it is and it’s not treated it can come and go, and you have some weeks when the fever can be high, so that’s what I had, but now it will be better,” the striker said.
The Ivory Coast player has scored only once in the past month, netting the second goal from the penalty spot in a 4-1 home win against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League on Nov. 3.
“I think when you know you’re not 100 percent you have to adapt to the game, that’s what I’m trying to do,” Drogba said. “Obviously, I want to score every game, but when you can’t, when you’re not 100 percent, it’s better to try a way to help your teammates, maybe creating assists, maybe defending a little bit more.”
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has already said Drogba will start against Fulham on Wednesday as the London club looks to maintain its lead over Manchester United at the top of the Premier League.
“Obviously he lost power and training, he lost his condition,” Ancelotti said. “He’s had treatment and now he’s OK. He’ll come back immediately in the best condition.”
Drogba also said he will return to top form now that the malaria has been treated.
“I think I’ll get better and start to score again,” he said.
The 32-year-old Drogba has scored 90 goals in 176 appearances for Chelsea.