While the long procession of injuries were being marched across our internet browsers, there was always one name every football fan hoped would manage to avoid such a calamity. Was it Messi? Was it Ronaldo? Torres? Undoubtedly, it was Didier Drogba. So when the news came, it left many football pundits wondering…
This is Drogba’s World Cup. Despite Soccernet and Fox Sports trying to force the dazzling Lionel Messi into our eyes and down our throats, Drogba is the real face of the tournament. As he said a while back, he wasn’t just playing for the Coast, but rather all of Africa. Kolo Toure’s revelation, “for him, he said, the World Cup is finished”, strikes a terrible blow for African football at a time when they are the centre of attention. The Group of Death with no Drogba looks a little timid and the match up between the best of Africa and the best of South America will be an insipid, rather than inspiring, affair.
But hold on… This is the Chelsea front man who is renowned for diving. The man who has broken the hearts of many a Liverpudlian. A man who hasn’t exactly endeared himself to the footballing fraternity. At the same time, he was plastered across the front cover of TIME Magazine’s People of the Year issue and has been credited with ending a civil war in his home country. The archetypal polarising figure.
“There’s a Bible passage I got memorized,” Drogba says. When the ball is whipped in from the by line by Malouda, with Andy Gray poised for a emblematic “Drooooogggbaaaa”, the centre man silences the ball with a lullaby. “Ezekiel 25:17. The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly –” Before he’s finished he’s hit it with a ruthless anger. Near post. Roof of the net. Good night and good luck.
Quit your bickering, there’s no doubt about it, Drogba is the best in the world. Quicker than Fabiano (is he even in the running?), better in the air than Rooney and Forlan. He’s craftier than Higuain. Unlike Torres, his ligaments aren’t made of bread sticks. Add to this his free kicks, and he’s almost the complete package. 2 – 0. The cameras burst in a sea of flashes. He’s muttering, “and you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.” (it’s really true he says it…or at least according to my magazine)
But for all Didier’s skilful mastery, he frustrates as much as he amazes. John Terry’s legacy wouldn’t have the fat red cross he earned in Moscow if it wasn’t for Drogba’s petulant “face slap”. Unlike fellow peace keeper Nelson Mandela, the cheeky Ivorian screamed “It’s a f$%#ing disgrace” across international airways. (It’s laughable to even picture Mandela and Drogba in the same sentence)
This is surely the last chance for Drogba to win the popular vote. He’s done just about everything off the pitch, but can’t seem to stay out of trouble between the white lines. 2010 was his stage and his chance to prove a world of football cynics wrong. Prove them wrong about African football too. This is Drogba’s World Cup and if he doesn’t feature, Marcus Tulio Tanaka, who’s ridiculous high boot broke the striker’s arm, will be a marked man. For the man they call “God”, the people of Africa will pray for. May the big man get his chance.