Former Ghana midfielder Michael Essien says doubts about clubs paying big money for African players were cleared following the performances of himself and Didier Drogba in the Premier League.
Essien moved from Olympique Lyon to join Chelsea in 2005, a year after Drogba had made the switch to the London side, also from Ligue 1.
Drogba stormed the Premier League in his debut season, scoring 10 and providing five assists in 26 matches in the league under José Mourinho.
According to Essien, that sterling performance, coupled with subsequent ones from the Ivorian and himself, paved the way for clubs to trust spending on players from Africa.
Essien and Drogba spent seven years together at Chelsea and won two Premier League titles and 2012 UEFA Champions league title after joining the Blues from Olympique Lyon and Marseille respectively.
Essien joined from Lyon in August 2005 for 24.4 million pounds and starred for the dominated Chelsea teams under former owner Roman Abramovic.
“It is always a big question if there is a big transfer over an African player. Didier Drogba was there. He showed it a year before I came [to Chelsea], and I followed it up,” the Ghanaian told Sky Sports.
“I think he gave some trust to the rest of the clubs that they could spend the money and trust the process.”
Between 2004 and 2014, both Essien and Drogba won four Premier League titles with the West London side while also claiming four FA Cup titles, among a host of other major honours.