Born in Abidjan on 11 March 1978, Didier Drogba spent his childhood in his native Ivory Coast and his adopted country, 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. Didier’s parents, who were bank workers in Abidjan, hated to see him go, but Michel convinced them that the move would give their son “a real chance to succeed in life”. For three seasons, therefore, Didier travelled with his uncle from one club to another. As well as ensuring that Didier kept up with his schoolwork, Michel Goba also used to bring him back shirts by the dozen after matches. After three years spent far from home, in Brest, Angoulême and then Dunkerque, Didier returned home at the age of eight.
At Levallois Didier was immediately put under the charge of Srebencko Repcic, a former Yugoslavian international who was technical director of the club. Didier demonstrated his commitment from a very early stage. “He didn’t go out to nightclubs on the nights before matches like his mates,” remembers Repcic, “he was a very sensible lad.” Talented too. The young man from Abidjan soon made the pitches of the Paris area his own. He became the star of the Under-17 team, coached by Christian Pornin. In two seasons (94-95 and 95-96), the young centre-forward notched up thirty goals. He won over the club’s managers who, the following year, promoted him to the first team. This was coached by Jacques Loncar and played in the French 2nd division.
Didier continued his apprenticeship as a footballer. In particular, he had to learn patience, and to respect his manager’s decisions. Even though he was the “best in the team” according to Repcic, he didn’t have his manager’s confidence and found himself warming the bench for much of the time. He spent only ten minutes playing in the French 2nd division, but even then managed to score against Fontainebleau. Despite this lack of time on the pitch, the young attacker attracted interest, with Guingamp, Le Mans, Lens and Paris Saint-Germain following his performances very closely.
But it was also at this time that he suffered his first serious injury. He fractured his foot, during a match against Caen, tripping on a sprinkler head and ending up in plaster. This mishap was not enough to throw Le Mans off the scent, however. On the recommendation of Jacques Loncar, Marc Westerloppe, then coach of Le Mans, decided to take Drogba as an apprentice. So Didier packed his bags and moved to France’s Sarthe region. He was 19 years old, and had finally become a professional footballer.
In the second year of his apprenticeship, he managed two first team appearances in the second division. Then in 1999, at the age of 21, he signed his first professional contract. The boy from Abidjan, who had first landed in France at Charles de Gaulle Airport sixteen years earlier, had finally attained his goal. At last he would be able to live his passion. His childhood dream was becoming reality. His first season was more than respectable; Le Mans’ new striker found the net seven times in 30 matches in the Championnat. Unfortunately for the new professional, his time with Le Mans was not to end as well as it had begun.
The team’s performance in the 2001-2002 season did not live up to the Le Mans board’s expectations.. Daniel Cousin took advantage of Drogba’s pre-season injury to establish himself in the Le Mans attack and gain the confidence of the new coach. When Didier did play it was no longer in the centre, but on the wings. He had a poor season, not scoring at all in eleven Championnat matches. The following season he bounced back, notching up 5 goals in 21 matches. Guingamp, where Didier had had a trial in 1998, renewed their interest in the player. Looking for a striker following Fiorèse’s departure to PSG and Guivarc’h’s injury, the team’s management turned to the young African. In the transfer window in January 2002, Didier left Le Mans, to experience Ligue 1 competition for the first time at the age of 24.
In the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Drogba was a starter for the Ivory Coast.
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Didier Drogba is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics . The estimated speaking fee range to book Didier Drogba for your event is $75,000 - $100,000. Didier Drogba generally travels from Phoenix, AZ, USA and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Viola Davis, Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer, Rashida Jones and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Didier Drogba for an upcoming event.
Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba will retire from the sport following the conclusion of the next United Soccer League (USL) season in November 2018.
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