Success Story from Côte d’Ivoire: Didier Drogba’s Hospitals

Didier Drogba was born in Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire in 1978. He left the country at the age of five and moved to France to live with an uncle, Michel Goba, who was a professional footballer (soccer player). After touring with his uncle for three years, Drogba returned to Côte d’Ivoire to live with his parents. In 1989, Mr. Drogba’s parents lost their jobs and decided that it was best for their son to move back to France to once again live with his uncle. When he was 13, Mr. Drogba’s parents were able to move to France, to a suburb of Paris. By the age of 15 Mr. Drogba was beginning to make his mark on the soccer field with his skills and was once again living with his parents.

At the age of 18, Mr. Drogba made his professional debut playing for a team in Levallois on the outskirts of Paris. After stunning success in France, including helping his team reach the 2004 UEFA Cup Final, Mr. Drogba was offered £24 million to move to the UK to play for Chelsea. In his first season Chelsea won their first league title in 50 years.

Mr. Drogba captained the national team in Côte d’Ivoire beginning in 2006. That year he led the team to their first FIFA World Cup. Côte d’Ivoire returned to the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups. He is the country’s all-time top goal scorer with 65 goals in 104 appearances. He was named African Footballer of the Year in 2006 and 2009. In March 2012, he became the first African player to score 100 Premier League goals and in October of that year he was voted Chelsea’s greatest player ever. He announced his retirement from international football in August 2014. Happily for Côte d’Ivoire, even without Drogba, the team was able to win the Africa Cup of Nations in February 2015.

In addition to being an amazing footballer, Dider Drogba is also credited with helping to bring peace to Côte d’Ivoire. After his country had experienced five years of civil war, when Côte d’Ivoire qualified for the 2006 World Cup, Mr. Drogba made a plea to the combatants to lay down their arms. His call was answered with a cease fire. Mr. Drogba further helped the peace process when he was able to get an African Cup of Nations qualifier moved to the rebel stronghold of Bouake. In January 2007, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) appointed Mr. Drogba as a Goodwill Ambassador.

In 2007, Mr. Drogba created the Didier Drogba Foundation. In late 2009, Mr. Drogba announced that he would donate the £3 million signing on fee for his endorsement of Pepsi for the construction, through his charitable foundation, of a hospital in his hometown of Abidjan. He also donated all the profits from his 2009 book Didier Drogba: The Autobiography and his DVD The Incredible Destiny of Didier Drogba to his charitable foundation. Mr. Drogba plans to build a total of five hospitals in Côte d’Ivoire, including in the cities of Yamoussoukro, Man, Korhogo and San Pedro. The first hospital, in Abidjan, is scheduled to be completed in 2015.

In 2010, Mr. Drogba was named as one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time magazine. He is considered one of the world’s most generous footballers, generally ranking in the top three or four globally, depending on the poll. There is a stadium in France named in Mr. Drogba’s honor.

Based on the literature on international development and personal success, why has Didier Drogba (and his foundation) been so successful?

Some key characteristics come to mind:

Mr. Drogba, GIVES HIS MONEY in an effort TO BENEFIT OTHERS, rather than spend it on material goods, drink, or even gambling as is reportedly the case for many of the world’s most famous footballers who are not known to give. Mr. Drogba remains among a relatively small number of footballers and ex-footballers that gives in a meaningful way.

Mr. Drogba EXPERIENCED HARDSHIP, including years of separation from his parents, TO PLACE HIMSELF IN A BETTER POSITION TO SUCCEED. The road to wealth and success to make a positive difference in people’s lives is not always an easy one.

By Heidi G. Frontani

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