Didier Yves Drogba Tébily (born March 11th, 1978) is a footballer from the Ivory Coast who currently plays for Chelsea FC in the English Premier League. In Didier's home country, la Cote d'Ivoire, his name "Drogba" has become synonymous with a 1-litre jug of locally brewed beer, alluding to the Ivorian's massive thighs and his force on the ball.
Drogba signed for Le Mans in 1998 (aged 19), who at the time were also in Ligue 2. After achieving a professional contract, he had a respectable first season, scoring seven goals. His next two seasons were dogged by injury, though his potential was clearly noted by En Avant Guingamp, who signed him in 2002, taking him up to Ligue 1 (aged 24). Drogba spent one and a half seasons at Guingamp, scoring in his first game and repaying the manager's (Guy Lacombe) faith in him. In his only full season with the club, Drogba scored seventeen goals and helped Guingamp finish seventh, a record high for them. This led to him signing for Olympique de Marseille, one of France's biggest clubs. Marseille initially struggled, with Alain Perrin, who signed Drogba from Guingamp, being soon replaced by José Anigo. However, Drogba was a consistent performer, scoring 19 goals and winning the award for French player of the year. He also scored 5 goals in that season's Champions League and a further 6 in the UEFA Cup run, making a total of 29 for the season. He also collected a UEFA Cup runner's up medal, Marseille losing to Valencia in the final. At the end of the season he moved to Chelsea as the club's then record signing for £24 million (before the arrival of Andriy Shevchenko for around £30 million in the summer of 2006).
Drogba adapted well to the FA Premier League, scoring in his third game for the club with a thunderous header against Crystal Palace. His season was interrupted when he pulled a stomach muscle against Liverpool, which kept him out of action for over two months. Despite this he enjoyed the second best goals-to-minutes ratio in the Premier League, Thierry Henry being the only player to better him in this respect.
The season proved very successful for Chelsea as they won the Premiership, only their second English top-flight championship and their first in 50 years, and the Carling Cup, with Drogba scoring in extra time in a 3-2 final win against Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium. He played an important part in his team's run to the semi-finals of the Champions League, where he scored a brace against ex-club Marseille's arch-rivals Paris Saint-Germain and another two goals in both legs of the quarter-final against Bayern Munich. Drogba made an impressive start to the 2005-06 season, scoring two goals in a Community Shield win over Arsenal. He also put in man-of-the-match performances in two 4-1 wins, one against Liverpool at Anfield, where he had a part in creating every goal, and another against West Ham United, where he scored the first, provided the second for Hernán Crespo, and played excellently throughout. Chelsea went on to retain the league title with two games to play, becoming only the second team to win back-to-back English Premier League championship titles. Ultimately, Drogba finished the 2005-06 season as the top assist provider in the Premier League, with 11 assists according to Actim Stats. Again he scored 16 for the season (12 in the Premiership, 2 in the Community Shield, 1 in the Champions League and 1 in the FA Cup).
On June 11, 2006, Drogba, who had previously disclosed that he wanted to return to Marseille because he had been demonised by the English media, said that he was ready to extend his contract at Chelsea and looked forward to playing with new team-mates Michael Ballack, Andriy Shevchenko, Salomon Kalou and Mikel John Obi. After the departure of Damien Duff to Newcastle United, Drogba switched from the number 15 shirt he had worn for Chelsea since 2004 to the number 11 shirt vacated by Duff. The season was a personal success for Drogba as he hit 33 goals in all competitions (more than his tally in the previous two seasons combined), including 20 in the Premier League to win the Golden Boot.
Among the highlights were scoring winners from outside the penalty area against Liverpool, Everton and FC Barcelona, a 93rd minute equaliser against Barcelona at the Camp Nou and both Chelsea's goals in their 2-1 Carling Cup final win over Arsenal. He also notched two hat-tricks; one against Watford and the other against Levski Sofia in the Champions League, Chelsea's first hat-trick in European competition since Gianluca Vialli in the Cup Winners' Cup in 1997. In his last competitive game that season, he scored the winning goal over Manchester United in the first FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium.
In January 2007 Drogba was crowned the Ivorian Player of the Year, beating off opposition from such players as Lille's Kader Keita, Lens' Aruna Dindane, and Arsenal's Kolo Toure. In March, he was named African Footballer of the Year for the first time, ahead of Cameroon and Barcelona forward Samuel Eto'o and Drogba's Chelsea team-mate, Ghanaian Michael Essien. His performances during the season saw him named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year and runner-up to Cristiano Ronaldo in the PFA Player of the Year awards.
Drogba is a Côte d'Ivoire international and helped the team qualify for its first ever World Cup Finals, held in Germany in 2006. His first cap came the September 9, 2002 against South Africa (0-0). He scored his first goal with "The Elephants" the February 2, 2003 in Cameroon (victory 3-0). He scored nine goals in eight qualifying games - statistically one of the best records in international football. In February 2005 he was voted runner-up to Samuel Eto'o in the African Footballer of the Year awards. He has scored 24 times in 34 caps, as of June 17, 2006.
In the 2006 World Cup, Côte d'Ivoire was drawn in a "group of death" with Serbia and Montenegro, the Netherlands and Argentina. On June 10, 2006, Drogba scored the first World Cup goal of his career and of his country's history in the opening game against Argentina, but his team lost 2-1.
Côte d'Ivoire were eliminated from the World Cup after their next game, a 1-2 defeat to the Netherlands, but came from 0-2 down to beat Serbia and Montenegro 3-2 in their final group game, with Drogba watching from the sidelines following suspension. Drogba was seen celebrating wildly with his Ivorian teammates in the dugout at the final whistle. He later told German television that he was "immensely proud" of his team mates, and felt that the team had done Africa proud, especially by demonstrating resolve and refusal to accept defeat.
In February 2007, Drogba was appointed as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador