NELSPRUIT, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 25: Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast reacts during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group G match between North Korea and Ivory Coast at the Mbombela Stadium on June 25, 2010 in Nelspruit, South Africa. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Word came out yesterday that Didier Drogba was to be 'rested' for this week's Ivory Coast's African Cup of Nations (ACoN) qualifier against Rwanda, but it appears that 'rested' isn't quite the correct term. According to some reports out of Abidjan, Drogba has turned down his summons to the national team and is either retiring from international football entirely or preparing to. At 32 years old, Drogba has reached the age where most players start to wind down their international careers, and few could say he hasn't already done his part in helping Ivorian football flourish.
Drogba's presence as the spearhead of a disclipined, well-organised side has seen the Ivory Coast's transformation from a relative backwater to a well-respected side capable of holding their own at international tournaments. Their presence at each of the last two World Cups has been primarily down to the talismanic striker, who appeared in 71 competitive games for Les Elephants and scored 45 goals, the captain particularly effective in the qualifying rounds for 2010, where he scored six goals in just five matches. If Drogba is indeed leaving, the Ivory Coast will have to find themselves a new captain - and replacing the two-time African Footballer of the Year will be a tough ask.
It would be easy to paint their loss as Chelsea's gain, considering all the time Drogba has missed on international duty over the years, but by the next ACoN Drogba will be nearing 35 and presumably not nearly so influential on the pitch. However, playing fewer games should help him stretch out his club career a little bit further, something Chelsea fans would have to be happy about, and there will of course be no more broken arms sustained while playing for his country.