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Chelsea legend Didier Drogba has explained what former South African president Nelson Mandela meant to him.

Read: Beckham Regrets Meeting Madiba With Cornrows

The Ivorian was invited to a charity event organised in honour of Madiba by basketball team the Toronto Raptors to commemorate the second anniversary of his passing.

Drogba revealed that he is close to the Mandela family and that the South African’s fight for freedom inspired him to help with the struggles in his own country.

“It’s important for me to be here tonight. I had the chance to meet this great guy,” he said.

“I call him ‘Daddy’ and I’m close to the family.

“His legacy is very important to people like me. Because all his life he shared his opinion, he gave us something important: We can all be together, we can all live in the same space despite our different opinions, despite our different origins, and what you call us.

“He is an important man for me. As a young man, I try to help my country, following his path. As I said, he is very important to me.”

Drogba is a hero in his home country after publicly pleading for peace in Ivory Coast back in 2005.

After leading his nation to qualification for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the striker picked a microphone in the dressing room, which was full with his teammates, and fell on his knees on live television.

Read: Drogba: I Would Honour Madiba Again

He begged both involved parties to lay down their guns. Within a week, his message was heard and five years of civil war was ended.

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