Didier Drogba: Striker Doesn't Need Africa Cup of Nations Title to Cement Legacy

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 30, 2013

RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 22: Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast during the 2013 Orange African Cup of Nations match between Ivory Coast and Togo from Royal Bafokeng Stadium on January 22, 2012 in Rustenburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)
Gallo Images/Getty Images

Didier Drogba is a legend of world football, no matter how the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations plays out.

It would be a tad ironic if the Elephants were to finally break their African Cup of Nations duck with Drogba taking a lesser role. He came on as a sub in the country's 3-0 win against Tunisia.

Despite a diminished importance this year, no player has been more vital to Cote d'Ivoire in recent years than Drogba.

He should be praised, though, should he continue to be willing to sit back and let the younger players take over. Thierry Henry hampered France massively at the 2010 World Cup when he refused to take a diminished role in the national team.

Unfortunately for Drogba, the striker's been a part of some of Cote d'Ivoire's biggest heartaches in the tournament. Perhaps no failure hit harder than the loss in the 2012 Final.

With all of the heartbreaking results of the past, the Elephants used a much more risk-averse system of play and failed to concede a goal the entire tournament. They then lost to Zambia on penalties.

For most players, lacking international trophies might be a hindrance to how they're remembered.

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After Chelsea's 2012 Champions League Final win, an international medal is the only thing missing for Drogba. He's far from the only player facing this scenario.

Many of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo's detractors point to the fact that they have failed to transfer their club forms in to international football.

That kind of criticism isn't warranted with Drogba.

There have been fewer players in recent memory who have consistently stepped up more on the biggest stage with their clubs. Last year alone was the kind of season for Drogba some footballers can only dream to do over their entire careers.

First, he became the only player to score in four F.A. Cup finals in the 2-1 win over Liverpool. Then, in the Champions League Final against Bayern Munich, he scored the equalizer in the 88th minute and the winning penalty in the shootout.

There's also his off-field exploits, which are quite a contrast to the petulant side he would often show on the pitch.

Few players across all sports are as socially aware as Drogba. Through The Didier Drogba Foundation, the striker has been able to give back those in need in his homeland.

It's because of that foundation that hospitals are being built and mosquito nets are being put on beds to help prevent the spread of malaria. Drogba has also worked very hard to try and put an end to the civil war that has ripped his country apart.

These are the kinds of things most players don't have on their resumes. Drogba is far from the only athlete ever to pursue humanitarian endeavors, but that doesn't mean he should go without praise.

Regardless of your opinion of Drogba the player, Drogba the man deserves the kinds of accolades that can't be won on a football pitch.


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