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Tue 5 Feb 2008 07:58 AM

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Drogba pulls out of CAF player award

Didier Drogba says African Footballer of the Year award won by Frederic Kanoute was destined for him.

Didier Drogba says the African Footballer of the Year award picked up by Frederic Kanoute was originally destined for him.

Mali's Sevilla striker Kanoute received the continent's top player award at a ceremony hosted by the Confederation of African Football in Lome, Togo, on Friday.

Drogba was unable to travel to Lome due to his commitments with the Ivory Coast at the African Nations Cup in Ghana, and the Chelsea star revealed here Monday that his no-show meant Kanoute picked up his title.

"I received a call in the afternoon (on Friday) from a high ranking CAF official," Drogba explained.

"He told me that if I didn't appear at the ceremony the rules would be changed, that I would no longer be first and that the prize would go to the runner-up, Frederic Kanoute."

Kanoute duly received the honour, with Drogba's Chelsea teammate Michael Essien, who was released by Ghana to attend, in second and Drogba third.

"Aside from the vote it was what was said that surprised me," added Drogba.

"We're all working for the African continent, there's a huge media presence in Ghana for a competition that was heavily criticised ten years ago.

"So there comes a time when we all have to pull together. I don't think this type of attitude honours Africa so I've decided to pull out of future elections for the Ballon d'Or."

"In my eyes this award has lost its value. I'm a simple player, the decision that I take doesn't hurt a lot of people."

"If I refused to go to Lome it was first for my teammates as you don't organise such an event just two days before a quarter-final (Monday's game against Guinea)."

"I didn't go as well because of the son of Ulrich Stilieke (the former Ivory Coast coach) has died."

Drogba's Ivory Coast face Egypt in the Nations Cup semi-finals on Thursday.

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