We all know who Didier Drogba is. The legendary striker from Cote D’Ivoire became a global superstar during his time in the Premier League. He scored 100 goals during an eight year spell between 2004 and 2012 at Chelsea F.C. and would go on to have a second spell between 2014-15 at the London-based club. Drogba also had impressive spells in the top leagues of other countries including France, Turkey, China and the USA. He is also considered one of the greatest ever strikers in African footballing history, having scored 65 goals in 104 appearances. Drogba was always a big-game player, with a record of scoring 10 goals in 10 finals that led to his team winning 10 trophies.
But this article is not about Drogba’s footballing ability. We all know about that and you will find thousands of articles online about how good a footballer he is. This article is about how Drogba’s efforts led to a truce during the civil war in Cote D’Ivoire, and in extension shows football’s ability to bring people together with a common passion and end war and conflicts.
By 2005, Civil War in the country had been raging for five years. In October of the same year, Drogba led his national team to qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, the first time in their history. Footballing fans around the nation were bursting with joy. After the match, a moment in history took place. Drogba took the microphone from an interviewing journalist and fell on his knees with a plea. A plea to both the warring factions to lay down their arms and restore peace in the country. And within a week of his plea, a truce was called between the warring factions.
Didier Drogba created history twice that day. He led Cote D’Ivoire to their first FIFA World Cup, and his plea brought peace and togetherness to his country. That moment had a greater significance than we can think of at first glance. In that moment, peace was restored because of a common passion of the people. It did not matter if you were part of the rebels in the North or the Government forces in the South, you had the joy that your nation was now a football giant, a participant in the World Cup, and that brought unity, the fact that all belonged to the same nation.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Drogba once said “I have won many trophies in my time, but nothing will ever top helping win the battle for peace in my country. I am so proud because today in the Ivory Coast we do not need a piece of silverware to celebrate.”
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