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Drogba shows his true colors

Martin Rogers
Yahoo Sports
Drogba shows his true colors
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Didier Drogba's mood changed after he scored three goals in Chelsea's EPL-title clincher vs. Wigan on …

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Didier Drogba joined some pretty illustrious company when he was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people on the planet last week.

His goal-scoring prowess for Chelsea and Ivory Coast wasn't the only thing that elevated him to that hallowed list. What also earned him recognition in this historic year for soccer was Drogba's stature in the sports world and on the African continent.

However, Drogba's antics on the final day of an extraordinary English Premier League campaign left much to be desired, and his actions created an unwanted sideshow to an afternoon that should have been about nothing but celebration.

Drogba showed where his priorities really lay by attempting to grab the ball from first-choice penalty taker Frank Lampard with Chelsea leading Wigan 1-0 in the first half of a game the Blues needed to win to secure the title. When Lampard quite rightly refused to hand over spot-kick duties, Drogba reacted furiously, pouting like a petulant child before a bewildered audience both at Stamford Bridge and on worldwide television screens.

The reason for Drogba's ire was concern that he would be denied the chance to win the EPL scoring crown. Heading into the final day of the season, both he and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney were tied with 26 league goals.

Lampard's converted penalty, which effectively put the game beyond doubt and ensured Chelsea would end United's three-year reign, was not enough to make Drogba calm down. He was a sulking, scowling, grimacing island inside a stadium erupting with joy.

Even by halftime, Drogba was still simmering and had to be ordered to be "quiet" by head coach Carlo Ancelotti.

"I spoke with him after the first half," Ancelotti said. "It was my decision, if there was a penalty, to give it to Lampard. I said: 'Quiet. You can score in the second half.' "

Wigan, down to 10 men after Gary Caldwell's red card, showed neither the ability nor desire to stand in the way of the champions-elect, and Chelsea promptly ran riot as Drogba struck three times after the break to claim the scoring title while Rooney hobbled around up in Manchester.

The hat trick changed Drogba's mood, and a hurried apology to Lampard followed after the game. Yet this was still an ugly moment and only Drogba knows whether he would have been so chivalrous if the second half had not transpired in such a productive way for him.

This summer, it will be about more than just goals for Drogba. He needs to pull the Ivory Coast onto his shoulders if it is to emerge from the World Cup's toughest group and become, as many predict, the African team capable of making a deep run.

Drogba likes his image of statesman and should be commended for the charitable works he has undertaken in his homeland. He likes the spotlight, likes political society and likes being seen as a "person of influence."

Now it is time for Didier Drogba to start setting the right example on the field, as well as away from it.

Weekend Best XI

1. Get him an Advil

Wayne Rooney gave England head coach Fabio Capello an almighty headache by limping off with just 13 minutes left in Manchester United's final game of the season. Rooney is seen as being critical to England's chances of success in South Africa, and although his groin is expected to heal quickly, his ongoing injury problems will be of huge concern to Capello.

2. Get him a beer

Claudio Ranieri's Roma is probably going to fall just short in its bid to clinch the Serie A title, but the genial head coach deserves much credit for the dignified manner in which he conducted himself this week.

Ranieri refused to bite despite taunts from Inter Milan boss Jose Mourinho that he was "a loser." Regardless of what happens next week, Ranieri can be proud of an outstanding campaign.

3. Get him some earplugs

Expect some heated talks when Rafa Benitez meets with the Liverpool board following the end of a disastrous campaign. Now it appears Benitez has no other immediate employment options and he is expected to refuse to quit. That means Liverpool will have to sack him and hand over a giant settlement check if it wants Benitez to leave.

4. Keep an eye on …

Landon Donovan hasn't set the scoring charts on fire since returning to Major League Soccer from a loan spell at Everton, but his all-around play should give United States fans plenty of cause for optimism ahead of the World Cup. Donovan has looked sharp for the unbeaten Los Angeles Galaxy and played a part in every goal during Saturday's 4-0 destruction of the Seattle Sounders, with three assists and his first goal of the season.

5. Catch a flight to …

Barcelona. What a year it has been in Europe's top leagues. Just like in England, the Spanish and Italian league titles have also gone down to the final day, with everything on the line Sunday. The best bet is to head to the Camp Nou, where victory for Barcelona against Valladolid would seal the La Liga crown and spark huge celebrations.

6. Useless and completely made-up statistic of the week

5000 – The number of green-and-gold scarves you can expect to see at the MLS All-Star Game on July 28 when an MLS best XI will take on Manchester United. The game will take place in Houston, but United protest groups are already planning to ship over the symbolic scarves for use by American-based supporters.

7. Fond farewell

Ronaldinho's World Cup hopes are about to be dealt their final blow – despite his claim that it would be "impossible" for Brazil to win the event without him. Head coach Dunga is expected to inform the AC Milan star that he will be omitted from the finals squad over the next week.

8. Get ready to say hello to …

Montreal. MLS is set to welcome its third Canadian team after announcing the Montreal Impact would become the league's 19th franchise. Toronto FC already enjoys strong support and Vancouver comes aboard next year. Montreal will begin play in 2012.

9. Get ready to say goodbye to …

Franck Ribery. Bayern Munich's prolonged attempts to have Ribery's Champions League final ban overturned are meeting with failure at every turn. The French playmaker was sent off in the semifinal first leg against Lyon, and the resulting three-match suspension will rule him out of the May 22 final against Inter Milan. Bayern has one more card to play – an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport – but its hopes are slim.

10. Get excited about …

The Europa League final. It takes place on Wednesday with Clint Dempsey's Fulham seeking to complete a miraculous run by beating Atletico Madrid for the trophy. Dempsey's efforts have been critical for the West London side, which finds itself on the verge of achieving the greatest moment in club history.

11. Why it's good to be a soccer player

Take a look at Susana Werner, wife of Inter Milan and Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar.

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