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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 March 2007, 21:09 GMT
Drogba wins African player award
Didier Drogba
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.

This debate is now closed please find a selection of your comments below.

I reject the Caf award. Please let me know the criteria used. I think we all know that the real winner is Samuel Eto'o. Therefore, my selection stands as thus: Samuel Eto'o, Michael Essien, Didier Drogba
Nukuna Samuel in Yaounde

He deserves it given the injury to Samuel Eto'o and his absence from the World Cup.
Marcel Nyuysemo, Cameroon

I think Drogba deserves the award. No one else in Africa deserved to win it, more so Eto'o who was out of the game for long time through injury, leaving Drogba as the only choice. On current performances, he is also the best player in Europe.
Raja Shoaib Anjum, Pakistan

Unlike in recent years when the award has been contentious, this is the first time the winner is truly deserving. Drogba should win the award again next season; he is the best striker in world at the moment and should be contending for world's best player.
Wale Ade, The Netherlands

No, no, no! Drogba is not the right choice. What has he done in comparison to Samuel Eto'o? Eto'o had the following achievements in 2006: top goalscorer at the Nations Cup; top goalscorer in Spain; winner of the European Champions League. Shame to those who voted for Drogba.
Wandum Stephen, Nigeria

Nukuna Samuel from Yaounde is, again, making the same silly comment I have read so many times, namely that Eto'o should have won the award (and that there must be something wrong with Caf and the criteria used). First of all, it's the national team coaches who have chosen Drogba as the best player. And second, give Drogba the credits for his outstanding performances this year (with Chelsea, and the Ivory Coast)!
Arnold Pannenborg, The Netherlands

A big thumbs up to Didier Drogba and the mighty Blues of Chelsea. Drogba is my man and I am glad he won this coveted Caf title. I still feel that he should have won the BBC award.
Israel Ambe Ayongwa, Cameroon

Drogba is definately not the best. He was not even Chelsea's top scorer last season. Lampard was. And he only started performing well as we know him but from August 2006. Eto'o was superb throughout 2006, and was only out with injury for three months. He is the real KING of Africa.
Evan Fonyuy, Cameroon

Based on 2006 performances, I believe Eto'o deserve a fourth win. He has, indeed, proven to be the best striker ever from Africa.
Nkengasong, Cameroon

I believe Drogba is the right choice. He is reallly on top of his game and should have got some global accolades if his name were 'Drogbavarro'.
Osaretin Asowata, Nigeria

The award should have gone to Essien who is able to play in defence, midfield and also in attack.
Robert Mwanza Mwema, Kenya

Why was Freddie Kanoute not nominated for the award?
Louis Aigbe, Nigeria

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