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03.03.2007 Football News

Didier Drogba wins African player award with 79 votes

By [email protected](spiritfm)
Didier Drogba wins African player award with 79 votes

Drogba is the first Ivory Coast player to win the award
Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba has been named the 2006 Caf African Footballer of the Year.

It is the first time Drogba has won the award and, in edging out Samuel Eto'o, he denied Barcelona's Cameroon striker a record fourth-successive award.

Another Chelsea player, Ghana's Michael Essien, finished third.

Drogba, 28, captained his country to the 2006 African Nations Cup final and played at the World Cup finals as well as helping Chelsea win the Premiership.

"It is a great honour to be recognised," Drogba said. "I feel an indescribable joy and it's also a reward for all the sacrifices I have made in the past."

His success comes four days after he scored twice for Chelsea to help them beat Arsenal in the Carling Cup final.

Drogba polled 79 votes in the poll of Africa's 53 national team coaches, ahead of Eto'o with 74 and Essien's 36.

Eto'o had pipped Drogba to the 2005 award by two votes in the closest race in the award's 36-year history, with Essien again third.

But the tables were turned this year and Drogba becomes only the third English-based footballer to win the award after Nwankwo Kanu, then of Arsenal, in 1999 and Senegal's El Hadji Diouf, who was with Liverpool when he took the title in 2002.

Arsenal defenders Emmanuel Eboue and Kolo Toure and Tottenham midfielder Didier Zokora, both Ivory Coast internationals, were named in the 2006 Team of the Year with Chelsea rivals Drogba and Essien the other Premiership stars to feature.

Meanwhile, Marseille defender Taye Taiwo was named Young Player of the Year while Ghana won the Team of the Year award.

Egyptian side Ahly were Club of the Year after defending their African Champions League title and their coach Manuel Jose won the Coach of the Year category.

African club competition Player of the Year was midfielder Mohamed Aboutrika, also of Ahly while Nigeria's Cynthia Uwak was Women's Footballer of the Year.