We all know Didier Drogba, one of the most prolific strikers of our generation and probably one of the best African players in history. Since he arrived in Europe at the hands of Olympique Marsellla and then at Chelsea he won absolutely everything. The Ivorian became a real headache for rival defenses and he got tired of scoring goals. He also managed to take his team for the first time to a World Cup and two finals of the African Cup of Nations.
There is no doubt that Drogba left an indelible mark on the world of football with his glorious sports career; but not even all those titles are compared to the most important achievement of his life, to an action that left Didier as more than a hero. And we do not mean a goal, but the day when Drogba stopped the war in Ivory Coast.
The civil war in Ivory Coast.
Ivory Coast had achieved its independence from France in 1960, however it was not possible to realize the formation of a stable nation after its emancipation. From the beginning there were ethnic and religious conflicts that threatened the stability of the young nation. During the course of the following decades, the conflict became worse, opening the way to an inevitable war.
All this caused that at the end of the century strong tensions arose between the people and the government, because the national reforms signed by the Christian populations of the south reduced the rights of the Muslims of the north. After several changes of government and attempted coups d'état, the civil war finally broke out on September 19, 2002, after a wave of murders committed by the rebel side.
A historic match.
In 2005 Ivory Coast was mired in the middle of a civil war and the country was completely divided: the south, governed by the government; and the north, dominated by the rebels. But in the soccer field was living dream in the country, with a golden generation with players like Didier Drogba, Cyril Domoraud and Kolo Touré; that triumphed in the best leagues in the world.
Ivory Coast had never qualified for a World Cup, but on October 8, 2005 that changed. That day Ivory Coast played the last game of the African qualifiers in which they won 3-1 to Sudan and qualify for the first time to a World Cup. Logically, this game was followed by the whole country through national television.
In the midst of the euphoria for that epic classification, Drogba wanted to take advantage of the celebration to make it a momentous moment for the history of his country. Kneeling and surrounded by all the ethnically diverse players composing the National Team, Drogba went to the national television camera and began his historical message for the Ivorian people:
"Citizens of the Ivory Coast, from the south, from the north, from the east, from the west, we ask them on their knees to forgive one another. Excuse me, forgive me. A great country like ours with so much wealth can not surrender to chaos and fall into war. Please, give up your weapons and organize free elections. "
As if it were one of his powerful shots to the goal, the message of Drogba overcame all barriers and fell deep in the hearts of the millions of Ivorians who followed the transmission with attention. The country was emotional at that moment of great celebration and Drogba took advantage of this to open his eyes to his countrymen. After 4000 dead in 3 years, who better to do it than the biggest national idol, that with his gesture raised his level to eternal legend. The Ivorians, in the middle of the ecstasy that produced the classification. They understood Drogba's words, it was not worth the war. A week after that gesture, both sides agreed to a ceasefire and organized free elections. It was the beginning of the end of the war.
The Drogba's legacy.
But Drogba knew that there was still a way to go and that he could do more for the peace of his country. In 2006, after a dream season at Chelsea, he was named African Player of the Year. When he received the prize he decided to return to Ivory Coast and offer it to the people. But he did not do it anywhere: he traveled to Bouaké, the city where the rebel side opposed to the government had installed his headquarters. From there he again requested the unity of the Ivorian people.
And the following year Drogba looked for an even greater feat and with more symbolism. He asked to play a friendly match of the National Team in the same city of Bouaké. This meant bringing the unity of the country at its maximum expression to the most conflictive place. It was not easy, but with the mediation of Drogba himself, the political and football authorities agreed to organize the game.
Finally the day of the match arrived and the national anthem sounded. When Drogba saw that the President of Côte d'Ivoire and the rebel leader were singing side by side, he knew that the civil war was over.
"Seeing the two sides together, sing in unison the anthem of my country was very special. I felt that Ivory Coast was born again."
Ivory Coast ended up winning 5-0 against Madagascar and the score turned out to be symbolic, such as a newspaper title the following day: "5 goals to erase 5 years of war . It is not surprising that the following year they included Drogba in the list of the 100 most influential people in the world. He alone had managed to appease a war that seemed to have no end.
Today the situation of the country continues to be unstable, but they continue to seek tranquility and growth. But Drogba, on the other hand, continues with his admirable social commitment contributing his bit to continue fulfilling his biggest dream: to see the Ivory Coast in peace. What Didier Drogba did on a football field is unforgettable, but his legacy as a leader of peace in his country is simply unforgettable. For the eternal memory will remain as Didier Drogba, a simple football player, use football as an unbeatable conciliatory vehicle to stop a war and achieve peace in your country.