Zokora playing for Trabzonspor in 2012
|Full name||Déguy Alain Didier Zokora|
|Date of birth||14 December 1980|
|Place of birth||Abidjan, Ivory Coast|
|Height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|Playing position||Defensive midfielder|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 4 June 2015.
Déguy Alain Didier Zokora (born 14 December 1980) commonly known as Didier Zokora is an Ivorian professional footballer who plays for Akhisar Belediyespor. He was on his country's national team for almost 15 years since 2000 and has become the team's most capped player.
Born in Abidjan, Zokora started his career in the Ivory Coast at Académie MimoSifcom. He was offered a professional contract along with his younger brother, Armando, with Ivorian club ASEC Mimosas. Tragedy struck though as Armando drowned to death celebrating at the beach in Grand-Bassam; in memory of his brother and hero, Zokora has Armand tattoed on his right forearm.
In 2000 he moved abroad to play for Belgian team Racing Genk and won the Belgian Jupiler League during the 2001–02 campaign, as manager Sef Vergoossen was named coach of the year and Wesley Sonck won top goal-scorer honors. Zokora went on to feature in 126 matches for the club and was memorably part of the squad that recorded a 1–1 home draw with Real Madrid on 12 November 2002. In the summer of 2004 he went to play for AS Saint-Étienne in France.
Zokora joined Tottenham in the summer of 2006 following his performances for the national side at the World Cup in Germany. The deal was reported by media as being worth £8.2 million. Shortly after joining the Premier League club, it was announced on 24 October 2006 that Zokora had contracted malaria after falling ill on the morning of a UEFA Cup group match against Beşiktaş in Istanbul. Zokora was in the hospital for four days and then spent a period of two weeks recovering, missing the win over Beşiktaş, two Premier League games and a League Cup fixture as well. It was announced on 31 October that Zokora had returned to training with first-team.
He won the 2008 Football League Cup Final with Tottenham, their first major title in 9 years, as a header from Jonathan Woodgate's face secured a 2–1 extra time victory over London rivals Chelsea. He was also part of the Tottenham side which returned to Wembley Stadium the following year to play in the League Cup Final, this time against Manchester United. Tottenham lost this game on penalties after the sides drew 0–0 after extra time with Zokora playing the full 120 minutes. Zokora managed to score a penalty in the shoot-out against PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Cup.
On 30 August 2008, Zokora signed a new four-year deal with Spurs that tied him to White Hart Lane until the summer of 2012. In January 2009 though, the club signed Honduran defensive midfielder Wilson Palacios from Wigan. The signing relegated Zokora to the sub's bench and he played the full 90 minutes just three times after January. On 15 March, Zokora started at left back for Spurs to try and curtail the pace and trickery of Aston Villa winger Ashley Young, Zokora picked up an early booking and was subbed off after 30 minutes for Vedran Corluka. Although he was at the club for three years, Zokora failed to score in 134 appearances.
In the summer transfer period of 2009 Zokora signed for Sevilla FC for an undisclosed fee, including a reported €30 million release clause. He made his debut for the Spanish side on 30 August 2009 in the first round of the La Liga season in a 2–0 loss to Valencia, coming on as a 21st minute sub for the injured Romaric. In his first season in Andalusia, Zokora managed to help take Sevilla back into the Champions League after finishing the league in 4th position. In addition to the league success, he helped his side claim their fifth Copa del Rey title by defeating Europa League winners Atletico de Madrid 2–0 in the final at the Nou Camp.
On 29 January 2011, Zokora came on as a 77th minute substitute for Federico Fazio and provided his only assist of the season to Álvaro Negredo, as Sevilla battled back from 2–0 down to claim a 3–3 draw with Deportivo La Coruña.
Zokora joined Turkish side Trabzonspor on 2 June 2011 on a four-year deal. The Turkish club announced that the transfer fee was €5 million, with the player earning €1.625 million a season. He made his debut on 10 September 2011, against Manisaspor.
During a 2–0 loss on 15 April 2012 to reigning league champions Fenerbahçe, Zokora was racially abused by their midfielder Emre Belözoğlu. Zokora was quoted as saying that Emre called him a "fucking !@#$%^&*"; national papers including Hürriyet blasted Emre and he later received a two-match ban by the Turkish Football Federation following the incident. Zokora dished out his own retribution against the former Newcastle midfielder when the two clubs met again on 6 May in Trabzonspor's 3–1 loss, kicking Emre "with the full force of his right boot" into his crotch with Zokora receiving a yellow card for the challenge.
On 29 April 2014 he left Trabzonspor.
Zokora has played 118 international matches for the Côte d'Ivoire national football team and is their most capped player of all time. He scored his only goal at the international level in a 4–0 defeat of Botswana on 22 June 2008 that moved Côte d'Ivoire to the top of their group in World Cup qualifiers.
During his twelve years with the national side, Zokora helped Les Éléphants to their first two World Cup finals appearances in 2006 and 2010. On both occasions Côte d'Ivoire were unfortunately drawn into the supposed "Group of Death," valiantly bowing out in third place each time. In the 2010 edition of the tournament, Zokora was forced to play in a new position, center back, against Portugal to bolster and compact the defense against the strong attacking side; Zokora helped his side earn a 0–0 draw.
During the Cup of Nations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, Zokora said he would retire from international football should Côte d'Ivoire win the title. Zokora did in fact retire from international football on 28 February 2012, following the end of the tournament. But Les Elephants went down in an 8–7 penalty shoot-out loss to Zambia in the Africa Cup of Nations final.
On 8 September 2014, Zokora announced his retirement from the national team.
|22 June 2008||Abidjan, Ivory Coast||Botswana||4–0||Won||2010 FIFA World Cup qualification|
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- Federation Ivoirienne de Football
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Didier Zokora.|
- Didier Zokora – UEFA competition record
- Didier Zokora – FIFA competition record
- Didier Zokora career statistics at Soccerbase
- Statistics at TFF.org (Turkish)
- Zokora interview at The Guardian