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Last Updated: Monday, 27 March 2006, 20:44 GMT 21:44 UK
Mourinho leaps to Drogba defence
Didier Drogba
Drogba admitted he had handled the ball in scoring
Boss Jose Mourinho has defended striker Didier Drogba, whose comments may threaten more controversy for Chelsea.

Drogba quickly retracted an admission to the BBC that he dived to fool referees, and admitted using his hands in scoring against Manchester City.

Mourinho said: "Sometimes he is a player who doesn't get what he deserves, Drogba is a fighter."

An FA spokesman told BBC Sport that no decision had been made on whether Drogba will face charges.

Drogba has attracted criticism this season amid accusations of feigning injury to try to get players booked or sent off.

No, I don't dive
Chelsea striker Didier Drogba

The issue surfaced again at the weekend when Drogba went down clutching his eye after being caught by City defender Richard Dunne.

But Mourinho added: "It was a big thing, it was a very strong finger in the eye which was completely full of blood.

"I am happy with Drogba. Players are not just about the skilful and beautiful ones who play for the stands.

"He's the kind of player I would say 'with you I could go to every war.' He is a very important player to us."

Manchester City players were incensed when referee Rob Styles failed to spot Drogba's handball in scoring his second goal of the game at Stamford Bridge.

After the match Drogba admitted he had handled the ball and initially admitted to sometimes diving - before immediately retracting his claim.

"Sometimes I dive, sometimes I stand," he told the BBC, before adding: "No, I don't dive."

The Ivory Coast hitman was booed by Blues' fans after he went down under Dunne's challenge and he now says he is confused by the supporters' reaction.

"Here, I don't know why I was booed?" Drogba said. "I can understand if they are unhappy when I don't play well.

"Wherever I play I always give everything for my team, and I always have a lot of respect for my shirt and my club."

Of the handball, he added: "I handled it but this is part of the game.

"I try to score and if the referee sees the handball there is a restart. He didn't see it, so for me it is part of the game."

It diminishes the quality of Drogba's game by what he's doing
PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor

Chelsea are currently facing two charges of failing to control their players, following incidents at West Bromwich Albion and Fulham.

Meanwhile, players' union chief Gordon Taylor has advised Drogba to change his approach to avoid letting his talent be overshadowed by his behaviour.

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Taylor said: "He is a talented striker but it diminishes the quality of his game by what he's doing.

"It's down to the individual. They know what they're doing and they have to live with themselves."

Referees spokesman Keith Hackett has added his weight to the debate by calling on players to stop conning officials and risk tarnishing football.

Hackett, head of the Professional Game Match Officials Board, denied the problem of diving was a tactic imported by foreign players.

He said: "There's no doubt a relatively small number are tarnishing the game and it's wrong to assume it's just the foreign players.

"We're making a plea to players to stop doing it, and for managers to instruct their players."

Interview: Chelsea striker Didier Drogba

Interview: PFA chief Gordon Taylor


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