Started from the bottom, now we’re here
And by bottom, we don’t mean Liverpool. Crystal Palace defender Mamadou Sakho shares about how he grew up in extreme poverty and the struggles he faced in life to become the professional footballer that he is today.
In an exclusive interview with Daily Mail, the French player revealed that he was so poor growing up that he had to beg for money to buy food and appropriate clothes for the colder nights in Paris.
“I was in the street, asking for coins, and one woman I asked pulled her bags close to her, like I would rob her.
“It shocked me. I just wanted some coins to buy bread but she thought I would rob her. I made a promise to myself. From that day, I said, “Look, today I am hungry and she thinks I will do something bad. But me, when I become someone, when I have something, I will give back.
“I know what hunger is. I know what cold is. I used to ask for coins so I could eat. It was my life when I was young. I don’t like to talk about it because I’m proud, you know?
“We all have our own stories. My personal life story put me in this mood — to give back. When you have a little bit of popularity, you can use it in a positive way. That’s what I’m trying to do.
“I don’t want to be an example to people. Never. I just want to inspire. Everyone grew up with his or her own story. This is mine. My story helped me become who I am and how I see life,” he shared.
And living up to his promise, the 29-year-old player is currently building his own orphanage in Tamba, Senegal, where his late father was from.
“I will call it Souleymane Sakho. My dad’s name. I knew I would become a footballer when I was 13, the day I lost my dad. I had family responsibilities on my shoulders straightaway. I became a man. For me, it was not an objective to become a footballer. It was an obligation.
“Someone asked me yesterday whether it was hard to become Paris Saint-Germain captain at 17. I said to him, “The hardest captaincy I had in my life was to be the captain of my family at 13,” he said.