5 June 2012

Africa: Didier Drogba, What Career After Football?

Photo: BackPagePix
Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba (center) warms up prior to kick off with teammates (file photo).


The European Champions League has come and gone this football season, and many football fans predicted that teams they support will win it. Some went to the extent of betting a lot of money because of the trust they have on their teams they support.

Some predicted that the final will only be played by two Spanish giants, Real Madrid and Barcelona. They believed that the players who play for those two teams are powerful and more skilful than any one elsewhere in Europe.

I for one believed in my team called Che­lsea Football Club from London, England. I have supported this football club since 1995, during the years of Ruddy Gulit before Gianluca Vialli took over.

I love Chelsea FC because they employ many African brothers as well as South Americans turned Netherlands internationals like Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Mario Merchiot. Additional to those South American players, were African players, the likes of Marcell Dessaily, Cele­stine Babayaro, Geremi Fotso Ndjitapa and many more others.

Chelsea FC is known for firing managers since the arrival of Roman Abramovich the owner, where even the best coach in the world Mr Jose Mourinho was indeed fired because he failed to deliver the Champions League in his four years' stay as head coach.

Before Mourinho, Chelsea FC only won the domestic league 50 years back before Mourinho was employed there.

So this football club was nothing compared to what it is today. Now Chelsea has become a team to reckon with in terms of football - if one is claiming that he/she does not know this name Chelsea, he/ she is living on another planet.

To the main issue now, let us talk about the son of Africa who works in Europe as a football player.

Didier Yvess Drogba Tebilly is a football player who hails from the Republique du Cote d'Ivoire in west Africa and employed by C helsea FC for 8 years now.

Drogba is a feared striker worldwide football-wise. He is deadly on the football pitch as he turns defenders and goalkeepers wherever he plays.

The quality that this young man possesses is unique. Didier Drogba plays football as a source of income and he never attended a football academy at all, because he did not think that one day he will be a star as he is today.

Didier left his country, the Cote d'Ivoire aged 9 to stay with his uncle in France who was a professional football player. He started school there as his parents wanted to give him the best education.

While in France, he played street football with other kids and after 3 years he went back home as he was always homesick, Drogba came back to Abdjan.

His parents travelled to France when he was 13 years old.

Still his parents did not think that football was his career. He continued his schooling and played football part-time.

Didier Drogba graduated with a degree in accountancy. At 18, he joined Guivamp football club for two seasons where he scored more goals. Here Drogba caught the eyes of the biggest clubs in France, particularly the giant Olypique de Marsaille FC which is so successful both in Europe and France League 1.

In 2004, Drogba went to England as Chelsea's new recruit bought by Mourinho, the manager, and made his mark as a regular scorer in English Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and Carling Cup as well.

Drogba won 3 Premier League tittles, 4 FA Cups, 2 Carling Cup plus the glorious Champions League.

Drogba broke the record of scoring in each four games at traditional Wembly Stadium in the FA Cup and won all of them. This record was only held by Englishman Ian Rush who scored in three games and won them all.

Now somebody must try to break this record of a man from Africa, Drogba.

I am talking about a man who holds the spirit of never say die. Drogba fought till the end as we witnessed about the road to Munich.

Drogba is a man who has always been called all sorts of names by rival clubs. Drogba scored many goals against bigger clubs including Barcelona on the way to the final, but his aim is to play football and win for the club he plays for.

Many will remember him as the greatest player ever that played for Chelsea.

Chelsea fans will now have to go back to the basics and vote again as currently their best ever is Gianfranco Zola.

Drogba is one of the African continent's heroes and role models because his name is known in every village, home or pub in Africa and elsewhere in the world.

The young man from Cote d'Ivoire is rated 3 on the 40 list of most influential people on Forbes Magazine, because he brokered the deal that brought his country to a peace deal that prevails today in the Cote d'Ivoire. Drogba as national captain for his country used his influence to convince the government of President Laurent Gbagbo to stage a world cup qualifier match in a rebel held city of Boake.

There was war in Cote d'Ivoire and as a result of a Soccer World Cup that was staged in South Africa, Cote d'Ivoire had to play Malawi for the qualification to go there. Drogba convinced his government in Abidjan to allow the match to be played in Boake.

This was a very risky business. He insisted that as long as those rebels are Ivoirians they must allow the people in that region to enjoy soccer like any other citizen. The government worried about the team from Malawi and other logistics, but he, Drogba, told them that he will take responsibility for everything.

His wish was granted and contact made that international football was coming to Boake. Everybody welcomed the idea and the match went ahead without any problems. While in Boake, Drogba appealed to all Ivoirians to lay down their weapons, stop fighting and negotiate for the sake of their nation.

That was his call, they answered immediately and the peace deal was done because of him.

Drogba is the only player so far known in the world who used his own money to build a hospital in his country to the tune of 3,000,000 US dollars. He paid for the building construction from his pocket while the government provided other necessities.

We must praise Drogba for his quality on and off the football pitch.

Drogba played in the African Cup of Nations final, won the English FA Cup and Champions League.

Now we will watch only two players Rona­ldo and Lionel Messi competing for the highest award as Drogba will be sidelined, why?

Africa is still cele­brating the Champions League, which was meant for Chelsea FC, but in reality it is the glory for Africa. Viva la Cote d'Ivoire, hoping Drogba will become a Minister one day after his football career, it is obvious he must.

Evaristo Shikalepo Ihepavali Community activist, based in Soweto, Katutura, Windhoek.

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