As one of Africa's greatest stars, Didier Drogba certainly demands our respect.
Not only is he a world-class athlete, but he's also a champion of human causes, specifically in his native Ivory Cooast.
It's with this in mind that I find what Drogba did on Wednesday's Champions League final so bemusing.
For those that don't know, Drogba was red-carded in extra time of the final for lightly slapping Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic in the face. As Henry Winter of the Daily Telegraph puts it,
If a night crammed with heroes offered up one villain it had to be Didier Drogba, deservedly expelled for slapping Nemanja Vidic. If this brilliant target-man does now exit the Bridge of sighs, he leaves with his head held low. His act of stupidity robbed Chelsea of a regular penalty-taker, so ushering Terry into the firing line.
The rest, as we all know, is history. Terry slipped, the ball sailed wide. Manchester United celebrated European glory.
Today's goal.com features a wonderful editorial from regular writer Oliver Peterson which touches on some of Drogba's issues.
Many think the Ivorian's time at Stamford Bridge is done. Jose Mourinho could come calling soon and we all know of the affection Drogba has for the 'Special One'.
While some question Drogba's abilities for his incessant whining and play-diving, it's duly noted that when he wants to, he can be one of the more prolific strikers in the world.
So why sully that during the biggest game of your career and add fuel to the fire by slapping a rival player?
The red card was deserved. Now what happens to Drogba? Here's an excerpt from the article. To see the original, please click here.
No one doubts his ability. He is more than a handful. No centre back sees Drogba’s name on an opposition teamsheet and is filled with glee. His footballing ability is not the issue here.But why cheat? And yes, it is cheating. Even today. Even in this day an age where players of bygone eras would turn in their graves at what is deemed a yellow card. At the reaction of a top class player to his fellow professionals. At the win at all costs “it’s a business, not a sport” mentality which has infested our wonderful game - now so global and deep in talent. It’s because he can. If, in the era of cameras covering every angle of the game - a player can get away with constantly (in almost every game) acting, pretending and wining, then we are in trouble. The system is at fault. Players like Drogba would be suppressed in their attempts to sway referees by their misdemeanours if only the system would be tweaked in order to extend harsh punishments on these wrongdoers. ...
If, as is widely expected, Drogba takes his big ego and his pouting lip away from Britain, and into Spain or Italy, then so be it. Most real fans within these shores wouldn’t miss him. His followers are those who condone his actions. Not true football fans.