A phone call from Madiba inspired Didier Drogba
Share this article:
Former Chelsea FC striker Didier Drogba says he was thrilled to be back in South Africa, having made some great memories during the 2010 World Cup.
Drogba was in the country last weekend as part of Heineken’s Share The Drama campaign. The 40 year old Ivorian was in Joburg to watch the Champions League final clash between Real Madrid and Liverpool FC.
"It's great to be back here. I have plenty of wonderful memories that I made during the 2010 World Cup," said Drogba.
Drogba had almost missed out on competing at the World Cup in South Africa after he broke his right arm in a friendly match.
But he has revealed that a call from former President Nelson Mandela had pushed Drogba to fight back from his injury so that he could make it to the first World Cup in Africa.
“I was in my hotel room in Switzerland at the time when I got a call from Mr Mandela. He told me ‘A World Cup in Africa without you, is not a World Cup’. I get goosebumps just thinking about that moment.
"So I fought hard to make sure that I was fit to play at the 2010 World Cup. He gave me some Madiba Magic.”
The lethal striker also spoke about his Champions League highs and lows.
The Ivorian footballer missed out on Champions League glory in 2008 when his team, Chelsea, was defeated by Manchester United in the final. However, four years later Drogba lifted the Champions League trophy in Germany against Bayern Munich.
“It was obviously devastating to lose a Champions League final,” said Drogba.
“We worked so hard to get to the final, and to lose on penalties was terrible.”
“At the time we were a very strong team. Everyone was disappointed, but we knew that we would get another chance to go to a final. When we went to Munich, we did everything to win it.
“I think losing in 2008 had helped me a lot, and given me an added push to get into another Champions League final.”
The 40-year-old Ivorian also heaped praise on Champions League finalists Liverpool FC saying he was delighted by the attacking football they have played this season.
“Liverpool blew away their opponents in Europe this season. You look at the games against Porto, Manchester City and Roma, and even the group stage matches. They were unbelievable and so they deserved a place in the final.
“There weren’t many better attacking teams in the world than Liverpool this season. They scored plenty and played exciting football .”
Drogba was also full of praise for Egyptian forward Mohammed Salah's contribution. The Egyptian scored the most goals by an African player in the English Premier League this season.
Salah scored 32 goals in the Premiership this season, three more than Drogba himself, who had held the record until this season.
“I’m really happy that it’s Salah that broke my record. I really like him.
“He deserves it. When someone plays so well consistently, throughout the season, they deserve the plaudits. They deserve to break records. His performances have been out of this world, so I am really pleased for him.”
Drogba added that he wasn’t surprised by Salah’s incredible performance during his first season at Liverpool.
“I knew he had the ability. I had seen him at Chelsea, and he was a wonderful footballer. Even before he had joined Chelsea, I had seen some of his games for his team, Basel.
“I saw the talent and potential. It was just a matter of time till he reached his full potential, which we are all seeing now at Liverpool.”