Drogba became more serious about organized soccer as a teenager, playing for youth teams of the Levallois and Le Mans clubs. However, he was set back by injuries and his lack of training at one of the soccer academies that develop elite talent for European clubs, and struggled to earn recognition.
Drogba's performance was uneven in his first two seasons of Premier League play, and he drew heavy criticism for "diving," the act of falling down after contact in hopes of drawing a foul, and for his outbursts at referees. But the powerful 6'2" striker finally appeared comfortable in his third season, scoring 33 goals to win the Premier League Golden Boot, along with the game winners in the League Cup and FA Cup finals.
Drogba's career with Chelsea ended in storybook fashion when he scored the winning goal in a penalty shootout against Bayern Munich in the 2012 Champions League final. Altogether, he scored 157 goals in 341 appearances with Chelsea, and helped the club to three English Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups.
Droba signed a lucrative deal with Shanghai Shenhua in June 2012, but his career in China was short-lived, as he played just 11 games with Shanghai before transferring to the Galatasaray club in Turkey.
Superstar and Statesman
Drogba catapulted the national team, nicknamed "the Elephants," into World Cup competition for the first time in 2006, and again in 2010. Although the Elephants failed to advance past the group stage both times, their appearance in soccer's biggest tournament with the likes of Brazil and England thrilled their devoted fans from Africa.
He created the Didier Drogba Foundation in 2007, which, according to its website,
"aims to provide financial and material support in both health and education to the African people." For his humanitarian actions, in 2010 Time magazine included Drogba in its list of the 100 most influential people in the world