“When I was young there were a lot of players more talented than me. They had pure talent. But my desire was stronger than their talent.” — Didier Drogba
There is hardly a discussion about African sports right now that would not involve Didier Drogba. He is one of the greatest footballers to ever grace the African continent.
Didier Drogba was born in March 1978. He began his football career in a car park at Abidjan, where he was born. Little did he know that one day, he would become one of the icons of football in the entire world. However, he developed his skills on the ball from a young age, having been sent to live in France with his uncle, a footballer. He could not get the recognition he wanted, however, until he signed his first professional contract, aged 21.
In 2002, Drogba moved to French club Guingamp. Thus began a lifetime of illustrious achievements, as he helped the club avoid relegation that year. At the end of the season he joined Marseille. There, he was so good that he was named the French Ligue 1 player of the year. After just one season he left and joined Chelsea. The transfer was a club record then at 24 million pounds.
His career at Chelsea is the stuff of legend. He had a shaky start; his first season was cut short by injury.
His second season yielded just 16 goals. However, that second season brought him his first Premier League medal. The next season, however, opened the floodgates for his goals. He got 33 goals. In 2007, Drogba was named the Ivorian Player of the Year. Also, he was named the African Footballer of the Year.
His career was not all rosy, though. He suffered series of injuries that kept him out of important fixtures, both in the Premier League and for his national team. This did not stop him from scoring 10 goals in 10 cup finals, winning 10 trophies in the process. He finished his first spell as Chelsea’s fourth top scorer of all time. Also, he scored the winning goal in the 2012 UEFA Champions League final against Bayern Munich. This cemented his status as one of the greatest players for Chelsea. In fact, he came back to Chelsea after spells at Shanghai Shenhua and Galatasaray and helped them win yet another title.
He was no slouch in the international scene too. Didier Drogba debuted for the Ivory Coast in 2002. From 2006 to 2014, he was the captain of the national team. He led the Ivory Coast to the finals of the African Cup of nations twice. In the process, he was named the African Player of the Year twice.
But his greatest contribution to progress is not in football. He was famously involved in the efforts to end the civil war in Ivory Coast. He created a charity foundation in 2007, called the Drogba Foundation, which aims to provide financial and material support in both health and education to the African people.
As a result of his humanitarian efforts, he was named a United Nations Goodwill ambassador in 2007. This is the story of Didier Drogba, a true legend in Africa, and not just in football.