Despite its struggles in international competitions, Africa remains a continent that has produced plenty of incredible footballers, and one of the most iconic ones has to be the Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba.
At a very young age, Drogba was sent to France to live with his uncle who was a professional footballer, due to his parents losing their jobs in the Ivory Coast.
Eventually, they also made their way to France, and Drogba started to live with them again, and he eventually started his football career with semi-professional side Levallois, and while he was an incredible forward for his age, he struggled to impress his coach at first.
Drogba then moved to Le Mans in order to study accountancy at university, and there he joined Ligue 2 club Le Mans as an apprentice, yet he found it hard to get used to daily training.
At the age of 21, he signed a professional contract with the club, and with the birth of his first child, he started to take on more responsibilities.
Midway through the 2001/02 season, Drogba signed for Ligue 1 club Guingamp for £80,000, and while he failed to impress during his initial games, the coaches’ patience was then rewarded in the following season, scoring 17 goals in 34 games and helping the club finish in seventh, their best league finish ever.
His impressive performances attracted French giants Olympique Marseille, who signed the Ivorian for £3.3 million, and there he continued his rich goalscoring form, scoring 32 goals in 55 games in all competitions, winning the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award for the 2003/04 season.
By this time, he had also established himself as a key player in the Ivory Coast’s national team, becoming their attacking focal point.
Drogba’s rise continued, as he signed for Chelsea in 2004 for £24 million, with him scoring 16 goals and providing eight assists in all competitions, despite struggling with injuries, winning the Premier League and the League Cup.
FA Cup and a League Cup during his first stint with Mourinho there.
Internationally, Drogba contributed heavily to the Ivory Coast qualifying for its first ever FIFA World Cup in 2006, also giving a passionate speech to the camera to end the Ivorian civil war, which led to a cease fire.
Drogba would also go on to create history in the 2010 World Cup that was hosted by South Africa, with him becoming the first player from an African nation to score against Brazil in a World Cup match, and the Ivory Coast narrowly missed out on going through to the knockout stage.
However, Drogba’s influence at Chelsea started to dwindle down, especially with the club’s constant changing of managers and recurring knee problems hindering his playing time.
In spite of this, the 2011/12 season was a milestone one for him, as Chelsea struggled in the Premier League, finishing in a dismal sixth place, yet they thrived in other competitions, winning the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League, with him scoring a very late equaliser in the latter, as well as the winning penalty.
He then announced that he would be leaving Chelsea after his contract expired, joining Chinese Super League team Shanghai Shenhua, playing with former Chelsea teammate Nicolas Anelka.
Afterwards, he moved to Turkish giants Galatasaray after issues with Shanghai Shenhua with regards to him receiving his wages, leading to his contract with the Chinese side being terminated by FIFA.
Drogba played an integral role as Galatasaray dominated Turkey, winning the 2012/13 Super Lig, the 2013/14 Turkish Cup and the 2013 Turkish Super Cup.
At the same time, Drogba also retired from international duties, finishing as the nation’s all-time top scorer with 65 goals in 105 games after the Ivory Coast once again narrowly missed out on the knockout stages in the 2014 edition of the World Cup.
However, Mourinho’s return to Chelsea enticed Drogba to also return, signing a one-year contract in 2014/15, and while he played in 40 games, winning the Premier League and the League Cup, he only managed to score seven goals.
Therefore, he announced his departure from the club, and he then went on to play in the MLS and the USL, first for Montreal Impact and then for Phoenix Rising, eventually retiring from football at the age of 40.
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