I first posted this on The Making of Jim Buttons blog.
Didier Drogba is one of the most brilliant footballers to have ever come out of Africa. However, after featuring in three African Nations Cup finals, he never featured on the winning side. Instead, Ivory Coast became champions after he had retired from international football.
After heading in the goal that took Chelsea to extra time against Bayern Munich on May 20, 2012 at the Allianz Arena, a heavy weight rested on his shoulders.This wasn’t going to be the first time Drogba was going to take a decisive penalty. Thoughts of losing crucial penalties, in the past, weighed heavily on his mind.
Drogba remembered his miss against Egypt in 2006. He also remembered his miss against Zambia, a few months earlier. He hadn’t forgotten his red card when Chelsea faced Manchester United in the Champions League final in 2008.
What’s more, he was facing Manuel Neuer, one of the best goalkeepers in the world who had saved penalties against Real Madrid during the semi final. Bayern had never lost a penalty shoot in a final while Chelsea had never won one. That is too much pressure and weight on one individual.
With the penalty shootout hanging on a 3-3 see-saw, Drogba’s penalty kick was going to be one of the most decisive in his career. It was already clear that he wasn’t going to be a Chelsea player anymore (but this was to change after he made a comeback). Despite all the pressure weighing heavily on his shoulders; his past misses and his fear of missing yet again, only one thing remained clear in his mind. He was going to conquer his fear! There was no doubt about it.
Was Didier Drogba lucky? None of his many achievements has anything to do with luck. He heard the sound of his name being mentioned on the winner's podium long before it happened. Her took the chances he had been given. He worked hard and by mastering his fears, he emerged victorious.
The question is, what are you going to do with the lemons that life keeps throwing at you? Are you going to make lemonade the way others have done before? Or, are you going to throw the lemons back and ask for apples instead?
The choice is yours.
“I’ve been criticized. I’m not big on talent or size, but I want to progress and I have shown the critics… there’s no room for everyone; but there’s room for the work. God rewarded me.”
Boubacar Barry, after Ivory Coast won the African Nations Cup in 2015.