Given his relatively late breakthrough into professional football, Drogba has often been described as a late bloomer, having signed his first professional contract with Le Mans at the age of 21. He is noted for his physical strength, ability in the air, and his ability to retain possession of the ball. Richard Beech of the Daily Mirror says that his “powerful and intrusive approach made him the lone striker [José] Mourinho grew to admire, and made it nearly impossible for opposing teams to isolate him and freeze him out of the game.” Drogba is renowned for performing in big games, with a goalscoring record at club level of 10 goals in 10 finals winning 10 trophies. Aside from his goalscoring ability, Drogba is also capable of providing assists to his teammates. Between the 2009–10 and 2011–12 seasons, he managed 24 assists in the Premier League, with an average pass success rate of 61.4 percent, owing to his vision and creativity on the ball. He provided 71 assists to teammates over the course of his entire career at Chelsea until May 2012, showing that he is also a team player. In set pieces, Drogba has also been known for his free kick ability, known to strike the ball with power and pace. Dr. Ken Bray of University of Bath has described him as a specialist especially from central positions, and says that he “really just passes the ball very hard”. He adds, “He hits it [the ball] very straight and appears to hit the ball with a very powerful side-foot action, almost like the technique used in a side-foot pass. Drogba’s style is about beating the goalkeeper with speed and depth.” Drogba’s diverse and robust playing style has seen him frequently cited as the toughest striker numerous defenders have had to face, these include Gerard Piqué Carles Puyol Chris Smalling Nemanja Vidić and Laurent Koscielny.