Didier Drogba has withdrawn from the Cote D’Ivoire national team following much speculation this week. New coach François Zahoui confirmed at an official presentation yesterday that following a meeting with Drogba ahead of next week’s qualifying game against Rwanda, our Ivorian striker has pulled out of the squad.
Zahoui confirms “I truly met Drogba in London. He told me he was so tired that he wanted to withdraw from the national team for a while. Drogba is a world class player who is indispensable for the Elephants, but I had to respect his decision. We will let him rest to recover his mental and physical strength and pray he comes back some day to the national team.”
Whilst this might be devastating news for the Elephants, for Chelsea supporters it’s exactly what we want to hear. In fact, since hearing news of John Terry and Frank Lampard’s injuries keeping them out of the England games next week, I can’t help think now is the perfect time for them to call it a day internationally as well.
You’ve only got to have a look at the sort of form Paul Scholes can still find for Manchester United at the age of 35 to see the benefits of international retirement. The United midfielder left the England set-up at 29 and the fact that he can still cut it at the highest level 6 years on, has to be down to looking after himself. So that’s not just diet and exercise, it’s giving his body a break while younger players keep going during international weeks – and that’s paid dividends for his club.
Shearer, likewise retired internationally after the Euros in 2000, going on to play for Newcastle until a knee injury finally forced him out in 2006. So why can’t our players do likewise?
Didier Drogba is 32 now and a Premier League season is unforgiving, not to mention the Champions League and domestic campaigns. The man loves his country and this isn’t a decision he’ll have taken lightly given what he represents in his home country. So for me, if he says he can’t keep doing it, then that decision should be not only respected but applauded.
And whilst Alan Hansen can claim “I am struggling to think of anyone, from the start of this season or the entirety of the last one, who is genuinely ready to phase out Terry and Lampard”, I think it’s about time Capello started looking and I think it’s about time both Terry and Lampard seriously consider following Drogba’s lead.