Didier Drogba

Born:  March 11, 1978

Birthplace:  Chicago, IL

Zodiac Sign:  Pisces

Career and Life

Didier Yves Drogba Tébily (French pronunciation: ​[didje dʁɔɡba]) is an Ivorian retired professional footballer who played as a striker. He is the all-time top scorer and former captain of the Ivory Coast national team. He is best known for his career at Chelsea, for whom he has scored more goals than any other foreign player and is currently the club's fourth highest goal scorer of all time. He was named African Footballer of the Year twice, winning the accolade in 2006 and 2009.

 

After playing in youth teams, Drogba made his professional debut aged 18 for Ligue 2 club Le Mans, and signed his first professional contract aged 21. After finishing the 2002–03 season with 17 goals in 34 appearances for Ligue 1 side Guingamp, he moved to Olympique de Marseille, where he finished as the third highest scorer in the 2003–04 season with 19 goals and helped the club reach the 2004 UEFA Cup Final.

 

In July 2004, Drogba moved to Premier League club Chelsea for a club record £24 million fee, making him the most expensive Ivorian player in history. In his debut season he helped the club win their first league title in 50 years, and a year later he won another Premier League title. His displays saw him named in the FIFA World XI for 2007. In March 2012, he became the first African player to score 100 Premier League goals. Just two months later, he scored in Chelsea's 2012 FA Cup Final win over Liverpool to become the first (and as of 2017, the only) player to score in four separate FA Cup finals. He also played in the 2012 UEFA Champions League Final, in which he scored an 88th-minute equaliser and the winning penalty in the deciding shoot-out against Bayern Munich. After spending 6 months with Shanghai Shenhua in China, and one and a half seasons with Turkish club Galatasaray where he scored the winning goal in the final of the 2013 Turkish Super Cup, Drogba returned to Chelsea in July 2014. With a career record of scoring 10 goals in 10 finals winning 10 trophies at club level, Drogba has been referred to as the "ultimate big game player." He joined Canadian club Montreal Impact in 2015 as a Designated Player and played 41 matches over two seasons, scoring 23 goals. Drogba became a player–owner for Phoenix Rising of the United Soccer League in 2017, and retired a year later at the age of 40.

 

An Ivory Coast international between 2002 and 2014, Drogba captained the national team from 2006 until his retirement from the Ivory Coast team and is the nation's all-time top goalscorer with 65 goals from 104 appearances. He led the Ivory Coast to the 2006 FIFA World Cup, their first appearance in the tournament, and also scored their first goal. He later captained the Ivory Coast at the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups. He was part of the Ivory Coast teams that reached the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2006 and 2012, but were beaten on penalties on both occasions. On 8 August 2014, he announced his retirement from international football. In 2018, Drogba retired from professional football at the age of 40. Afterwards, on December 11, he became Vice President of the international organization Peace and Sport.

Early life

Drogba was born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and at the age of five was sent to France by his parents to live with his uncle, Michel Goba, a professional footballer. However, Drogba soon became homesick and returned to Abidjan after three years. His mother nicknamed him "Tito", after president Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, whom she admired greatly. He played football every day in a car park in the city but his return to the Ivory Coast was short lived. Both of his parents lost their jobs and he again returned to live with his uncle. In 1991, his parents also travelled to France; first to Vannes and then, in 1993, setting in Antony in the Paris suburbs, at which point the 15-year-old Drogba returned to live with them and his siblings.  It was here that he began playing team football more frequently, joining a local youth side. Drogba then joined the semi-professional club Levallois, gaining a reputation as a prolific scorer in the youth team and impressing the coach with his professional attitude. His performances earned him a place in the senior squad but despite scoring in his debut, the 18-year-old Ivorian failed to make an impression on Jacques Loncar, the first team coach.

Personal life
Drogba is married to Diakité Lalla, a Malian woman whom he met in Paris, and the couple have three children together. His eldest son, Isaac, was born in France in 1999, but grew up in England and has played in the Chelsea academy system. Isaac Drogba signed for French club Guingamp in February 2018. Drogba has two younger brothers who are also footballers: Joël and Freddy Drogba. Freddy, (born 1992), is currently in the youth system of French Ligue 1 side Dijon. He is a devout Roman Catholic. His uncle, Michel Goba, is also a professional footballer and Ivorian international, and his cousin Kévin Goba (Michel's son) is a professional footballer who played in the lower leagues of France.

Drogba is credited with playing a vital role in bringing peace to his country. After the Ivory Coast qualified for the 2006 World Cup, Drogba made a desperate plea to the combatants, asking them to lay down their arms, a plea which was answered with a cease fire after five years of civil war. Drogba later helped move an African Cup of Nations qualifier to the rebel stronghold of Bouake; a move that helped confirm the peace process. On 24 January 2007, Drogba was appointed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as a Goodwill Ambassador. The UNDP were impressed with his previous charity work and believed that his high-profile would help raise awareness on African issues. In September 2011, Drogba joined the Truth, Reconciliation and Dialogue Commission as a representative to help return peace to his home nation. His involvement in the peace process led to Time magazine naming Drogba one of the world's 100 most influential people for 2010.

 

Drogba's charity work continued when, in late 2009, he announced he would be donating the £3 million signing on fee for his endorsement of Pepsi for the construction of a hospital in his hometown of Abidjan. This work was done through Drogba's recently created "Didier Drogba Foundation" and Chelsea announced they too would donate the fee for the deal toward the Foundation's project. Drogba decided on building the hospital after a recent trip to the Ivorian capital's other hospitals, saying "... I decided the Foundation's first project should be to build and fund a hospital giving people basic healthcare and a chance just to stay alive." The same year, Drogba teamed up with sportswear company Nike (whom he is sponsored by) and U2 frontman Bono on the eve of World AIDS Day to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Drogba said, "It’s a big honour and pleasure for me to be linked with Bono and try to help him save some lives. AIDS and HIV is something that really destroyed Africa, and people don’t really realise how easy it is to save lives — only two pills a day, which is 40 cents."

 

In November 2014, Drogba appeared in FIFA's "11 against Ebola" campaign with a selection of top football players from around the world, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Gareth Bale and Xavi. Under the slogan "Together, we can beat Ebola", FIFA's campaign was done in conjunction with the Confederation of African Football and health experts, with the players holding up eleven messages to raise awareness of the disease and ways to combat it. On 22 February 2018, Drogba, former AC Milan striker and current Liberia President George Weah, and teenage French prodigy Kylian Mbappé had a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the Élysée Palace in Paris that focused on a sports development project in Africa.

 

As a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, Drogba has taken part in the annual Match Against Poverty alongside Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane. He has appeared in the 2012 and 2015 games. Levallois Sporting Club, the amateur club where Drogba began his career, used their percentage of his transfer fees  including £600,000 out of the £24 million paid when he joined Chelsea – first to ensure the club's survival, and then to improve their stadium to incorporate modern sports facilities for the benefit of the local community. They renamed the new stadium Stade Didier Drogba in his honour.

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