The name Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla might seem like a mouthful, and it is, but it belongs to one of the more exciting Canadian youngsters in the MLS right now.
“The MLS?” we hear you scoff. Well, back in April, the 17-year-old caught the attention of a few Premier League clubs, including Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea.
Currently contracted to Montreal Impact, the Ivory Coast-born winger now gets to train every day with Didier Drogba, his idol.
Speaking to Le Monde in France, the youngster explained he let his emotions get the better of him when he first realised he would be playing football with the former Chelsea star.
He said: “I cried. I couldn’t hold it back. Didier, he’s my God. I waited years to see him, and there I was, playing with him. I never thought he would come here. He took me in his arms. I’ll never forget it.”
Already idolising the Ivory Coast striker when he was a boy, Ballou Tabla speaks of 10 v 10 games he used to play in Abidjan, and we bet you can guess who he was on the pitch, forming an affinity for Chelsea in the process.
He said: “It was Ivory Coast against Brazil. I was always on the Ivorians’ side. We all liked Aruna Dindane, Kader Keita, Yaya Touré, but the true idol, the number one, was always Drogba.
“Obviously, we all loved Chelsea, we followed club news, the transfers and we played with them on video games. I wanted to be a professional Chelsea player, to do everything like Didier.”
Moving to Canada aged 10, the forward was always pushed by his parents to pursue football, even telling him to play like his idol.
Speaking of the interest from the Premier League, Ballou Tabla explained he’s getting sound advice from the legend himself.
He explained: “I’m not letting it get to my head. The most important for me is to win my spot in the first-team before even thinking about the future. I need to work on my finishing.
“Didier sees me as a little brother. He talks to me all the time, helps me get composure in front of goal. It’s crazy. Sometimes I just stare at him, without listening. I keep trying to work out if it’s really him.”
It might be some time before we see the youngster in the Premier League, if we ever do, but if there’s one person you want to learn from to get all the right tips on how to master English football, there are worse options than Didier Drogba.