Le Mans Union Club 72

The least one can say is that Didier saw some highs, but mostly lows during his early days at Le Mans. Luck was hardly on his side. During his two years as an apprentice, Tito was to break two metatarsals, a fibula and an ankle. He seemed to be dogged by bad luck. And yet this was also the time at which Isaac, the first of his two children, was born. "This was a turning point in my life. It straightened me out", he remembers. Despite multiple injuries, under Marc Westerloppe and his deputy, Alain Pascalou, Didier learned how to be a professional footballer

First full professional contract at 21

In the second year of his apprenticeship, he managed two first team appearances in the second division. Then in 1999, at the age of 21, he signed his first professional contract. The boy from Abidjan, who had first landed in France at Charles de Gaulle Airport sixteen years earlier, had finally attained his goal. At last he would be able to live his passion. His childhood dream was becoming reality. His first season was more than respectable; Le Mans’ new striker found the net seven times in 30 matches in the Championnat. Unfortunately for the new professional, his time with Le Mans was not to end as well as it had begun.

Competition with Daniel Cousin

The team’s performance in the 2001-2002 season did not live up to the Le Mans board’s expectations. Marc Westerloppe, who had signed the young player, was replaced by Thierry Goudet. Daniel Cousin took advantage of Drogba’s pre-season injury to establish himself in the Le Mans attack and gain the confidence of the new coach. When Didier did play it was no longer in the centre, but on the wings. He had a poor season, not scoring at all in eleven Championnat matches. The following season he bounced back, notching up 5 goals in 21 matches. Guingamp, where Didier had had a trial in 1998, renewed their interest in the player. Looking for a striker following Fiorèse’s departure to PSG and Guivarc’h’s injury, the team’s management turned to the young African. In the transfer window in January 2002, Didier left Le Mans, to experience Ligue 1 competition for the first time at the age of 24.

Par Egar Perdana Maulana

At first when Didier Drogba signed at Marseille I thought he wasn’t good enough. But then one day (April 23rd 2003) I tu...