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Didier Drogba has earned worldwide acclaim as a professional soccer player and champion for peace in his native Ivory Coast.
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Didier Drogba was born on March 11, 1978, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. After emigrating to France at an early age, he became a star soccer player in his adopted country and later led the world-famous Chelsea club to multiple championships. An immensely popular figure in Africa, Drogba has captained the Ivory Coast national team and earned acclaim for his humanitarian efforts.
"When I was young there were a lot of players more talented than me. They had pure talent. But my desire was stronger than their talent."
Didier Yves Drogba Tébily was born on March 11, 1978, in the Ivory Coast city of Abidjan. At age 5, he was sent to live in France with an uncle, a professional soccer player, with the hope he would be exposed to more opportunities by the experience. Eventually, his parents and siblings joined him in France.
Drogba became more serious about organized soccer as a teenager, playing for youth teams of the Levallois and Le Mans clubs. However, he was set back by injuries and his lack of training at one of the soccer academies that develop elite talent for European clubs, and struggled to earn recognition.
Drogba signed his first pro contract with Le Mans when he was 21, but he received his first big break after transferring to Guingamp in 2002, where he helped the club avoid relegation to the second division. He transferred to Marseille for the 2003-04 season, scoring 19 goals in 35 games to win the French Ligue 1 Player of the Year. Having reached his athletic prime, the 26-year-old was targeted by many of Europe's top clubs, and Chelsea paid a transfer fee of roughly $36 million for his services in 2004.
Drogba's performance was uneven in his first two seasons of Premier League play, and he drew heavy criticism for "diving," the act of falling down after contact in hopes of drawing a foul, and for his outbursts at referees. But the powerful 6'2" striker finally appeared comfortable in his third season, scoring 33 goals to win the Premier League Golden Boot, along with the game winners in the League Cup and FA Cup finals.
Drogba's career with Chelsea ended in storybook fashion when he scored the winning goal in a penalty shootout against Bayern Munich in the 2012 Champions League final. Altogether, he scored 157 goals in 341 appearances with Chelsea, and helped the club to three English Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups.
Droba signed a lucrative deal with Shanghai Shenhua in June 2012, but his career in China was short-lived, as he played just 11 games with Shanghai before transferring to the Galatasaray club in Turkey.
Drogba made his first international appearances for the Ivory Coast team in 2002 and by 2007 had scored 28 goals, a record for his country. Named African Footballer of the Year in 2006 and 2009, Drogba captained the Ivory Coast to runner-up finishes in the African Cup of Nations finals in 2006 and 2012.
Drogba catapulted the national team, nicknamed "the Elephants," into World Cup competition for the first time in 2006, and again in 2010. Although the Elephants failed to advance past the group stage both times, their appearance in soccer's biggest tournament with the likes of Brazil and England thrilled their devoted fans from Africa.
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