Drogba hardly a model footballer

GARETH WHEELER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:19 PM ET

When winning isn’t enough, enter Chelsea’s Didier Drogba.

Immensely skilled, yet the man has never been, nor will be a model footballer.

Drogba’s on-field achievements and subsequent accolades make the reigning African footballer of the year one of the most lethal strikers in the world. His talent is undeniable. And his commitment can rarely be questioned.

His competitive persona tells another story.

If memories of last season’s hissy fit after Chelsea lost their semifinal Champions League tie with Barcelona weren’t fresh in mind, his sulking Sunday will be.

With Chelsea up 1-0 in the 31st minute, Wigan went a man down with last-man Gary Caldwell taking down Frank Lampard inside the box. Penalty given.

Conventional wisdom dictates Lampard take the kick at such a vital moment. Lampard scores, the title goes to Chelsea. It’s that simple.

To script, Lampard’s number was called and was automatic from the spot. Jubilation ensued for all wearing blue inside Stamford Bridge, except for one man.

Drogba pouted. Drogba sulked. Drogba scowled.

You see, Drogba felt he should have taken the penalty to help his individual pursuit of the Golden Boot. Drogba entered the match tied with Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney atop the EPL with 26 goals.

Drogba childishly made the moment about him rather than the team. It was plain to see and absolutely embarrassing that Lampard would have to console his downtrodden teammate. An absolutely selfish reaction from a selfish player — the kind of despicable display nauseating to any individual having taken part in team sport.

Because that’s what soccer is – a team sport. It’s about working toward team goals, together as one. Chelsea was England’s best side all year, and full credit to it. An EPL record 103 goals for and a plus-71 goal differential is evidence of its dominance.

Drogba had no problem celebrating with his “team” after scoring his goals. Drogba put three past a defeated, 10-man Wigan in the 8-0 win. His finishing was sublime, as per usual. But the hat trick was only marginally more difficult than being gifted a PK, which he thought he was entitled to.

Therein is the problem. There were no repercussions for Drogba’s indiscretion and no message delivered. You can be as much of a jerk as you want, as long as you keep scoring. Or in John Terry’s case, keeping the ball out of the back of the net.

Manager Carlo Ancelotti has done a fantastic job since arriving at Chelsea just over a year ago. But the Italian should have substituted Drogba at the very moment he put himself over the team.

Two goals up with Wigan a man down, Drogba wasn’t needed to secure victory. Substituting the sulker would have sent a message what kind of character the club stands for.

Instead, Drogba got what he wanted. It’s a prime example of all that’s wrong with the entitled millionaire athlete culture. Remember to coddle with care.

Drogba is not going to change. Embracing the concept of team is a matter of convenience. It always has been. Getting sent off for slapping rival Nemanja Vidic in the 2008 Champions league final was all about him. So was admitting in the past to diving and cheating for personal gain.

This selfish on-field demeanour is even more disappointing considering how much Drogba has done to help the peace process in his war torn homeland, the Ivory Coast.

Wayne Rooney meanwhile, was held scoreless Sunday, deciding to pass rather than shoot in a game he could have shot at will, with the away scoreboard shattering Manchester United’s title hopes. Rooney only had two shots at the Stoke goalkeeper, Canadian turncoat, Asmir Begovic. United won 4-0, therefore Rooney was a winner.

But it will be Drogba going down in the history books as a Champion and most prolific goal-scorer of ’09-’10. But a true winner inside and out, he’ll never be.

gareth.wheeler@suntv.canoe.ca


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