Despite a wealth of soccer talent that has come from the Ivory Coast, including legendary Chelsea striker, Didier Drogba, the team disappointed at last summerâ€™s World Cup, and has yet to bring home hardware worthy of its talent. And follow up last yearâ€™s disappointment with a horrific five month post-election crisis, and the mood in Cote Dâ€™Ivoire has been dour. But the country was uplifted by the recent Under-17 World Cup in Mexico. There, a 16-year-old striker, by the name of Souleymane Coulibaly, dubbed â€œThe New Didier Drogbaâ€, scored nine goals in four games for Ivory Coast, including a hat-trick against Brazil and a four goal game against Denmark in consecutive matches. Coulibaly ended up tying the tournament goal-scoring record set by former Liverpool player Florent Sinama-Pongolle, but in three games fewer than the Frenchman. Souleymane in fact ended up scoring nine of his entire teamâ€™s tournament total of 11 goals. And for his efforts, Coulibaly was awarded the Golden Boot as the tournamentâ€™s best player.
Coulibaly currently lives with his father in Italy where he plays for Italian team Siena. But that is about to change, as Coulibaly was chased down by all of the big clubs after his record-setting tournament. After being courted by the likes of Real Madrid, Coulibaly settled on Tottenham of the English Premier League, where he is expected to move very quickly to the first team.
â€œI want to thank all those who said good things about me,â€ Coulibaly told Fifa.com after receiving the Golden Boot Award. â€œMy team-mates and I had a wonderful moment in Mexico. The defenders ignored some spaces which I exploited to score those goals. But mostly, this recognition goes to my team-mates who assisted me.
Coulibaly himself humbly acknowledges Drogbaâ€™s clear physical advantage. â€œDrogba is taller than me, heâ€™s more physically built than me and heâ€™s better with air balls than me. If I can become a quarter of him Iâ€™d be so happy,â€ Coulibaly recently told Ivorian newspaper Frat Mat.
The Ivory Coast may not have brought home the Under-17 World Cup title. But Souleymane Coulibaly gave his country-people something to be proud of. And he should continue to do so in England.