Legendary coach Bill Shankly said: “I disagree, that football is as important as life. In my opinion, football is much more important.” In the story of Didier Drogba, it is probably the life of a whole country. The former Chelsea striker once said: “I have witnessed the revival of my country.”
Drogba helped his homeland end the civil war
Ivory Coast, the country of Didier Drogba, has been plunged into a civil war since 2002, which is later estimated to have claimed about 4,000 lives and left millions displaced. The government of President Laurent Gbagbo owned the South while the rebels led by Guillaume Solo controlled the North.
Former player Sebastien Gnahore recounted the horrific years he had escaped abroad: “When I phoned my relatives, I could still hear the gunfire outside. My relatives have to hide under the bed for days. They just go out to get food. The only thing I care about when I wake up in the morning is my family is okay. “
On October 8, 2005, Ivory Coast team with stars known as the golden generation of this football background – Didier Drogba, Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Eboue, Didier Zokora … came to Sudan to play the final match in the round World Cup 2006. That would be a completely pointless match if Cameroon beat Egypt at home in the same day match.
If Ivory Coast wins, they will win tickets to the World Cup finals, in case Cameroon does not win Egypt. That is why Didier Drogba and his teammates linger on the field after beating Sudan 3-1. They nervously watched the match in Cameroon in parallel, over the radio.
The score was then 1-1 in the last minute. Then, Cameroon received a penalty in the fourth minute of injury time. Pierre Wome hit the post and bounced off. So is the joy of history: Ivory Coast first appeared in the World Cup arena. Wait a second. We are talking about another history!
In the dressing room, someone handed Didier Drogba a microphone, in front of a television camera. All were silent before Drogba released every word, which he later said was completely instinctive: “People of Ivory Coast, of all North, South, Central and West. Today, we have shown that every Ivorian can coexist, share the joy of going to the World Cup. We promised, that we will win to make everyone harmonize … “.
Then came the climax. Didier Drogba did not say anymore. He did not declare. No statements. It is pleading. He knelt down. Teammates, in turn, knelt down. Drogba pleaded: “Please forgive. Please forgive each other. Our beautiful country cannot be ruined by war anymore. Please release all weapons. Please vote. Everything will be better ”. Toure, Eboue, Arouna Kone … all cried. Then they all stood up one by one, hugging, excited, singing. “Please stop shooting and have fun …”.
Reality is still the reality. The next morning, the people of Ivory Coast still have to wake up in awe, tension, and caution from each other. But the clip, which lasted for only about 1 minute, continued to spread for weeks and months, with very clear effect.
World Cup fun doesn’t just cover Abidjan. Even at the “hideout” of the rebel faction, the second-largest city of Bouake in the Ivory Coast, people also rejoice to enjoy the victory. We all drink … Drogba beer. The parties have been brought together, negotiating with each other. To say that the war ended immediately is unrealistic. But, it will end later.
The Ivory Coast football team contributed greatly to end the 2002-2007 civil war in their country. In particular, individual Didier Drogba should be considered an icon.
At the 2006 World Cup finals, Ivory Coast fell into the “death table”. They lost to Argentina and the Netherlands before winning against Serbia. Overall, it’s a “watchable” journey. Just as Didier Drogba himself has had a “watchable” personal career on European turf. Yes, they will awaken the country.
A few months after the 2006 World Cup, the parties officially signed a peace agreement and Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo declared the end of the civil war. The next home match of Ivory Coast (won Madagascar 5-0) took place in the “rebel capital” Bouake, as expected of Didier Drogba. It was a symbol of peace, with Gbagbo and rebel leader Guillaume Soro singing the national anthem in the stands before the ball rolled. Press headline: “5-year-civil-war ended with 5 goals.”
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