Despite his brilliance as a footballer, a lot of people can’t take footballer Didier Drogba serious. For starters, what’s with that wet curl?
Seriously, though, the Drogba that emerges in a new BBC radio documentary (to be broadcast later today) that explores football’s influence beyond the pitch, might change their opinion slightly. (Well, some people also just hate him because he plays for Chelsea.) The documentary is made by Christian Purslow, a former chief executive at Liverpool FC. He interviews a number of players, including Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher, Patrick Vieira (formerly of Arsenal, Inter Milan and Manchester City), AC Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf and of course Drogba. This comes in the wake of Drogba’s appointment in September to Cote d’Ivoire’s new Truth and Reconciliation Commission to represent the Ivorian diaspora. Then earlier this month he was awarded a global humanitarian award by a British sports organization.
Purslow has described Drogba as “eloquent, intelligent, and engaged.” Drogba gets to talk about the now well-known story about “the unifying power of football if harnessed in the right way, citing the example of how football helped stop the civil war in his native Ivory Coast.”
We had just qualified for the World Cup and all the players only wanted one thing – Ivory Coast to be united. The country was divided in two, but we knew we were calling people in the country and they were saying, ‘When Ivory Coast is playing the country is united. People who don’t [normally] talk to each other, when there is a goal they celebrate together.’ We were trying to use this and send the message to our politicians to sit down and talk and try to find some solutions. I knew that we could bring a lot of people together. More than politicians. The country is divided because of politicians; we are playing football, we are running behind a ball, and we managed to bring people together.
Drogba also responds to critics of his political ambitions:
People want to say, ‘Didier is going into politics, that this is too complicated for him’. But it’s not, it’s not. It’s just a kid from Côte d’Ivoire who wants to help his country. I am not a politician, I will never be. But if I can help my country I will do anything. I’m not here to judge the ex-president or the new one. The only thing I can say is that the population suffered a lot. A lot of people have been killed. That’s why it was necessary for us to speak. I’ve suffered from this war but it’s easy for me to come out and say ‘My village has been attacked’ or ‘This guy from my family died’. But what about the others? The other people who cannot talk. They all suffer.