The UEFA President’s Award recognises outstanding achievements, professional excellence, and exemplary personal qualities. The accolade, first introduced by UEFA in 1998, is usually awarded annually to a football personality who is deemed to have advanced the game’s development and success.
Didier Drogba is the second African-born winner of the UEFA President’s Award after the great Eusébio, who received the accolade in 2009.
“Didier is a hero to millions of football fans for his achievements throughout his glittering playing career. He is a leader – a pioneer. I will remember him as a player for his skill, strength and intelligence, but above all for his insatiable appetite to succeed – a trait which is just as present in his desire to help others off the field of play, the UEFA Champions League has become the greatest club competition in the world, partly due to our clubs being able to attract the best players from around the world.
We have been lucky to have seen the likes of George Weah, Samuel Eto’o and Didier Drogba play at the very highest level. They, in turn, have blazed a trail for African footballers and have given inspiration to a whole new generation who look to follow in their footsteps.” said Aleksander Čeferin, UEFA President.
Drogba scored 164 goals in 381 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea and netted 65 times in 105 appearances for Ivory Coast establishing himself as arguably one of the best centre forwards of the 21st century.
Didier Drogba to collect the UEFA President’s Award in Geneva during Thursday’s UEFA Champions League draw
Didier Drogba will collect the UEFA President’s Award in Geneva during Thursday’s UEFA Champions League draw.
Away from football, Drogba is credited with playing a vital role in bringing peace to his country. After the Ivory Coast qualified for the 2006 World Cup, Drogba made a desperate plea to the combatants, asking them to lay down their arms, a plea which was answered with a cease-fire after five years of civil war.
The Ivory star later helped move an African Cup of Nations qualifier to the rebel stronghold of Bouake; a move that helped confirm the peace process.
Drogba was appointed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as a Goodwill Ambassador. He joined the Truth, Reconciliation and Dialogue Commission as a representative to help return peace to his home nation. His involvement in the peace process led to Time magazine naming him one of the world’s 100 most influential people for 2010.
It is safe to say Didier Drogba has been a star both on and off the pitch. He became a player owner for Phoenix Rising of the United Soccer League in 2017 and retired a year later at the age of 40.
On 8th August 2014, he announced his retirement from international football. In 2018, Drogba retired from professional football at the age of 40.