Didier Drogba is an aging soccer legend with enough talent and grit to serve as the captain of the Ivory Coast national soccer team in the 2014 World Cup. Although Cote d’Ivoire is relatively new to the international soccer world, the team has managed to become a competitive upstart.
Here’s what you need to know about Didier Drogba, 36, the two-time winner of African Footballer of the Year:
1. He’s Played in All 3 Ivory Coast World Cup Appearances
The Ivory Coast national soccer team made its first appearance in the World Cup in 2006, when a young Drogba was put front and center as the team’s top forward. In that World Cup, the new team had the unfortunate chance of being slotted into a group with Argentina and the Netherlands, and they never made it out of the first round.
In the 2010 World Cup, the New York Times reports that Drogba was seriously injured during a warmup game before the tournament began. But he refused to quit, getting shoulder surgery and returning to the pitch only days later. That tournament, Ivory Coast tied with Portugal in its first game but was eventually eliminated before advancing.
2. In 8 Seasons for Chelsea, He Scored 100 Goals
The hallmark of Drogba’s career was his eight-season stint at Chelsea, where he became one of the team’s most valuable players. Between 2004 and 2012, he played up to 60 matches a season, scoring as many as 37 goals a year.
Above you can see a highlight reel of all of Drogba’s 100 goals for Chelsea.
3. He Was Benched During the Japan Match
Drogba was not put on the starting list during the Ivory Coast’s first 2014 World Cup match against Japan. Drogba told the New York Times, “I was disappointed, but I have to show my respect to the starters.”
Sabri Lamouchi, the Ivory Coast’s coach, explained that Drogba has been plagued by injuries but is still valuable for his ability to rally the other players: “People love Didier Drogba, and I know there are many lovers of Drogba’s style. But you have to understand the last time he played 90 minutes was a few months ago in Turkey He’s just recovered from injury. He made a a lot of sacrifices to be here at the World Cup for his country.”
4. The Didier Drogba Foundation Fights Against Malaria
… provide financial and material support in health and education to the African people. And the former Chelsea striker is also engaged in the fight against malaria since early 2012, alongside United Against Malaria (UAM), starring in a new campaign to fight this disease, which still kills a child in Africa every 60 seconds.
5. Ivory Coast Plays Colombia at Noon Thursday
After a stunning comeback and eventual win over Japan last week, Ivory Coast is ready to take on Colombia. Colombia is also emboldened off of a vicious 3-0 defeat of Greece. Can Drogba finally bring his team to the round of 16? Find out at noon.