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African Heroes: Didier Drogba
All this week we will be profiling the African Heroes -you- our lovely audience have suggested. Today we will be looking at Ivory Coast’s very own Didier Drogba!
Ok, so you might not all love Chelsea, but he has had quite a career and his influence stretches far beyond the football field! So, without further ado, here's a (very) potted history of the one they call King Drogba...
Didier Yves Drogba Tebily was born in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire in 1978 and five years later was sent to France to live with his uncle, professional footballer, Michel Goba. He moved between the two countries eventually settling in a surburb of Paris with his parents when he was 15.
Drogba had a relatively slow start to his career and rose up through the ranks of French football from Le Mans to Guingam and then on to Marseille in 2003. He spent just a year at Marseille but whilst there he scored 19 league goals, five in the Champions League and a further six in the UEFA Cup. He went onto win that season’s The National Union of Professional Footballers Player of the Year and remains a legend in the history of the club.
His star was truly in the ascendance as he was snapped up in July 2004 by Chelsea FC for a cool £24 million. He will have been at Chelsea for eight years and recently announced his decision to leave when his contract expires in June this year. Drogba’s domestic success can be summed up when looking at his finals goal record
2005 Carling Cup final - scores in extra-time in 3-2 win over Liverpool.
2007 Carling Cup final - scores both goals in 2-1 win over Arsenal.
2007 FA Cup final - scores the only goal in 1-0 win over Man United.
2008 Carling Cup final - puts Chelsea ahead in 2-1 loss to Spurs.
2009 FA Cup final - scores equaliser in a 2-1 win over Everton.
2010 FA Cup final - scores only goal in 1-0 win against Portsmouth.
2012 FA Cup final - scores Chelsea's second in 2-1 victory against Liverpool.
2012 Champions League final - his 88th minute header took the game against Bayern into extra-time before he scored the decisive penalty in the shoot-out.
Whilst his domestic career isimpressive, his international career is, in some ways, extraordinary. Drogba was first capped for his country in 2002 against South Africa and went on to and help the team qualify for its first ever World Cup. But the twice crowned African Footballer of the Year's influence stretched far beyond the 18 yard box. But what really makes his international role stands out is something very different.
The brutal civil war in Ivory Cost had been raging for more than five years. Shortly after leading his nation to the 2006 World Cup finals, Drogba picked up a microphone, fell to his knees on live national television and begged both factions to agree a seize fire – amazingly his one wish was granted! As he later told The Telegraph “It was just something I did instinctively.All the players hated what was happening to our country and reaching the World Cup was the perfect emotional wave on which to ride." But he was never keen on talking about his political action outside of Ivory Coast. "I don't feel I need to say anything to anybody about who I am in Africa," Drogba replied. "I know what I stand for and that is all that matters.”
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