Mamadou Sakho as a young man dealt with a lot of issues including shelter and food. For Sahko, there were times when hunger would hit because he could not afford to buy bread. Other times when cold would take over as he searched for a spot to spend the night.
One memory stands out from when he was very young, Sahko who was shocked said “I was in the street, asking for coins, I just wanted some coins to buy bread and one woman I asked pulled her bags close to her, 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”.
‘We all have our own stories. 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.’
His already hectic childhood got tougher when he lost his dad, left with 6 siblings; three brothers and three sisters, bounced from home to home in Paris. ‘Eight or 10 places,’ he estimates.
‘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’.
Through it all, though, Sakho never lost his passion for football. PSG spotted and signed him at the age of 12. He went on to become their youngest captain before earning a call-up for the France squad and moving to Liverpool in 2013 but had a falling-out with manager Jurgen Klopp, who sent him home from their pre-season tour of the United States for not respecting rules.
His career took an unexpected turn in 2016, Sakho failed a drugs test, though the doping case was later dismissed and it transpired he had done nothing wrong. But he had missed Liverpool’s Europa League final against Sevilla and Euro 2016 on home soil, a big hit in his career causing him to struggle.
He struggled to win back his place for France and was not in the squad for 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Sahko said “I never regret anything in my life,’ says Sakho. ‘If something is for you in life, you will get it. If it’s not for you, why do you weep? I just follow my destiny. Life is short. Football is short.”