Born in Abidjan on 11 March 1978, Didier Drogba spent his childhood in his home country the Ivory Coast and his adopted France. ‘Tito’ as he was known to friends and family, first left the country of his birth at the age of five. He headed for Brest in Brittany, where his uncle, Michel Goba, was a professional footballer. Drogba spent three years there with his uncle, living in Brest, Angoulême and Dunkerque, before returning home.
Following a downturn in economic conditions, he returned to live with his uncle in Dunkerque, though he continued to move around France as a youngster. It was at this time that he began to play football. In 1991 his parents also travelled to France, first to Vannes and then in 1993 settling at Antony in the Paris suburbs, at which point the 15-year-old Drogba rejoined his family. He signed for local club Levallois, where he rose through the ranks, playing for them in National 2, the fourth french level, aged 18.
Le Mans and Guingamp
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. It was also at Guingamp that Drogba formed an effective partnership with future France international and Chelsea team-mate Florent Malouda. 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.
Olympique de Marseille
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. Again he attracted attention from bigger clubs with a string of good performances (most notably in the UEFA cup against Liverpool (goal at Anfield, and another in the return) and Newcastle where he scored two goals including a cleverly orchestrated corner). At the end of the season he moved to Chelsea as the club's then record signing for £24 million, before the arrivals of Michael Essien for £26 million in the summer of 2005 and Andriy Shevchenko for around £30 million in the summer of 2006. Drogba is still held in high esteem in Marseille where the crowd at the Stade Velodrome continue to chant his name. His shirt from his only season at OM is also framed in the basilica of Marseille, Notre-Dame de la Garde, after he went there before the UEFA cup final and presented it to the church.
Signing for Chelsea in July 2004, 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. He scored 16 goals in 40 games for Chelsea in his first season (10 in the Premiership, 5 in the Champions League, 1 in the Carling Cup final), but was criticized for being inconsistent.
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. In both goals, Drogba mercilessly exploited the mistakes of young Swiss defender Philippe Senderos. 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.
Drogba was accused of cheating during Chelsea's 2-0 win over Manchester City, during the 2005-06 season. Replays showed that he had used his hand to control the ball before scoring the second of his two goals. In a post match interview with the BBC, he acknowledged that he had handled the ball and seemingly admitted to cheating, saying, "Sometimes I dive, sometimes I stand," before immediately retracting his comment: "I don't dive, I play my game."
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.
Furthermore, after the departure of fellow striker Hernán Crespo and winger Damien Duff, and manager Mourinho's decision to switch to a 4-4-2 formation after fielding a 4-3-3 featuring only one out-and-out forward over the past two seasons, Drogba's position in the coming season looked more stable as the first choice striker alongside Andriy Shevchenko.
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. In doing so, he became the first Chelsea player since Kerry Dixon in 1984-85 to reach 30 goals in a season. The breakdown of his 33 goals is; 20 in the Premier League, 6 in the UEFA Champions League, 3 in the FA Cup and 4 in the Carling Cup (League Cup).
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.
In March 2007, Drogba's younger brother Joёl attempted to break into English football, with a trial at League 1 club Leyton Orient. However, the trial proved unsuccessful.
His transfer from Olympique de Marseille to Chelsea in July 2004 is one of those about which the Stevens inquiry report in June 2007 expressed concerns because of the lack of co-operation from agents Pinhas Zahavi and Barry Silkman.
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 on 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 February 2006, Drogba captained Côte d'Ivoire to their second African Cup of Nations final, scoring the only goal in their semi-final match with Nigeria and putting away the deciding spot-kick in their record-tying 12-11 penalty shootout quarter-final win over Cameroon. However, they lost in the final to Egypt 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw, with Drogba's shot being stopped by Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary in a penalty shoot-out.
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. At the post-match press conference, Drogba praised his team-mates for a good overall performance (singling out Bakari Kone and Didier Zokora in particular), but said that he and his team-mates have to work at cutting out mistakes and becoming better organised. "The difference between big teams like Argentina and small teams like us," Drogba said, "is that the big teams make the small teams pay for their mistakes. When you play opponents like Argentina, when you make little mistakes, you pay."
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 teammates, 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 
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