Chelsea striker Didier Droga has ended his Ivory Coast international career at the age of 36. He picked up 104 caps for his country scoring an impressive 65 goals during the 12 years.
His career for The Elephants saw him become his nation’s all-time top goalscorer, winning Ivory Coast Player of the Year 3 times in 2006, 2007 and 2012 and African Player of the Year in 2006 and 2009. However, unfortunately for Drogba he would never win the African Cup of Nations, most recently finishing runners-up in 2012 as they lost via a penalty shoot-out to Zambia. For Drogba this was made even more painful as he missed a penalty during the last 15 minutes of the match. Drogba did appear at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil being utilised as a substitute.
Drogba is an active advocate of peace in his home country and has worked for the United Nations as a Goodwill Ambassador before founding the ‘Didier Drogba Foundation’ to help with humanitarian work in Africa. He also lead the team in a plea for a ceasefire as Civil War raged through the country. After qualification was assured for the 2006 World Cup a video emerged for the players getting on their knees in the dressing room and begging for rebels to put down their weapons. This happened and documentaries have since been made about the feat.
In a statement about his retirement Drogba said: ‘These past 12 years in the national team have been full of emotions. From my first call up to my last match I have always tried to give my best for my country. I am very proud to have been captain of this team for 8 years and to have contributed to placing my country on the world stage of football taking part in 3 World Cups and 2 African Cup of Nations finals. I cannot convey enough thanks to the fans for all the love and support during these years. All my goals, all my caps, all our victories are for you – I love you.”
Drogba has recently returned to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea for whom he scored 100 goals in 226 Premier League games between 2004-2012. That spell included 3 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 2 League Cups, 2 FA Community Shields and 1 UEFA Champions League. Whilst Drogba will not be expecting to start every match he is a nice alternative to new £32m signing Diego Costa and £50m flop Fernando Torres.
Where does Didier Drogba rank amongst the greatest African players of all-time for you?