Didier Drogba is a name that will forever be etched in Chelsea folklore, however his contribution with regards to the Ivory Coast has been underestimated.
Didier Drogba will always be respected and loved from the footballing world following his achievements in the game. He won a total of 19 major trophies in his career, a feat achieved only by a few. He scored the match-winning penalty in the 2012 UEFA Champions league final, arguably the greatest moment in Chelsea’s history. However, Drogba’s biggest contribution did not happen on the biggest European stage of all, but in front of just 20,000 people in the Al Merreikh Stadium, Sudan.
The Ivory Coast was in the midst of a civil war, with the country split in two. The rebel forces had control of the Northern side of the country, while the South was held by the central Government. By 2005, 3 years after the start of the war, the country was completely divided in every sector. Hundreds of people had died in the Bloody conflict. The people had nothing to be happy about.
On the 8th of October 2005 something happened that changed that. The National team had beaten Sudan 3-1, a win which meant they were heading to their first ever World Cup. The whole country was celebrating together for the first time in years. In Sudan, the players were also celebrating wildly. However Didier Drogba stopped these celebrations. He asked for silence in the dressing room. He took a microphone and spoke on a Sudanese TV channel where he spoke to all Ivorians, he stated that the team was successful in reaching the World Cup because they were united in their goal, and that is how the rest of the country should act. The whole team begged for the war to stop and asked for elections. The people were touched by his plea, and just three years later the war was over.
The war ended in 2007 and once again Drogba played a pivotal part in stopping it. He proposed that a National team friendly should be played in the Northern side of the country, an area held by the rebels. The FA agreed to this and for the first time in 6 long years, the country was united in their goal. Didier Drogba, a football player had found a way to unite a conflicted country. Never has anyone used football to portray peaceful political messages but Drogba managed to do that and probably saved the lives of hundreds of people and the fate of his own country in doing so.
Didier Drogba used the beautiful game to unite a country and that is why he should be respected by everybody. He is not just a Chelsea legend, but a national hero as well.