Former Ivorian international and Chelsea legend Didier Drogba on Wednesday announced his separation from his estranged wife Lalla Diakite after over 20 years of marriage.
The announcement came after he was forced by netizens to provide clarifications concerning their marriage following rumors that they were no longer living together as husband and wife.
Drogba and Lalla tied the knot on June 12, 2011, in Monaco in the presence of selected guests.
The 42-year-old made the shock announcement via his Instagram page telling fans that: “I am not used to discussing my private life, but due to speculation in the media today, I will confirm that unfortunately after 20 years together Lalla and I have made the difficult decision to go our separate ways.
“We remain very close and our main goal has been our children and to protect them and the privacy of the family.”
They share three children together – Isaac, Iman and Kieran.
Former Ivory Coast striker Drogba has previously maintained a discreet private life as he tried to shield his loved ones from the limelight.
But he has been forced into making a statement confirming his relationship with Lalla was over after saucy images of him and an unknown woman set tongues wagging.
The photos and clips soon went viral on social media.
And they showed the bare-chested Blues idol in bed with a nearly-naked young woman.
In the film, which a representative claimed had been hacked, she playfully sinks her teeth into Drogba’s shoulder as he screams in pain.
He then speaks to her in French about being bitten, and appears to say: “She’s positive! She’ll infect me by biting me!”
That sparked headlines in his native West African homeland.
And it prompted him to break his silence and admit he and Mali-born Lalla have gone their separate ways.
Drogba played in three World Cups with the Ivory Coast and twice helped them to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations, also earning cult status among fans for his exploits with Chelsea in the Premier League and Champions League.