Four African footballers who grew up poor

Four African footballers who grew up poor

 The story of people rising from people rising from poverty into riches is one that has always been fascinating to learn about.

Most often, the story is told of persons in other businesses but not much is said about those in football.

Indeed it is quite difficult getting that huge break in football and suddenly getting rich from the ‘zero’ zone especial for Africans.

That notwithstanding, there are a few who have gotten through and their stories still inspire the many who train and play barefooted on the many dusty parks dotted across the continent.

Here are 5 of such persons:

Samuel Eto’o

samuel-etooNow 36 years old and worth about $80m, the Cameroonian star grew up in a very under very difficult conditions living with this family in a small home located in Doualla.

He grew up sharing a bed with six of his siblings. His passion for football saw him make balls out of plastic materials he found and played with two of his brothers who are also footballers now. After years of playing for an academy in Cameroon, he moved to France but had to leave to Spain where he joined the youth team of Real Madrid.

At the time, he earned about $200 a week, an amount that completely blew his family away. That was beginning of the fattening of Eto’o’s bank account. Today he is one of the continent’s richest footballers.


Christian Atsu

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The Ghanaian international’s move from an ordinary little boy on the streets of Accra to being one of the country’s respected soccer players is incredible.

He said growing up in Accra for him was tough as his family had “very little money and very little food”.

He had to resort to selling sachet water to earn some extra money to support his family. Today his is valued at $12m.


Yaya Toure

Yaya TouréIt wasn’t until the age of 10 that Yaya Toure had his very own football boots, having spent years knocking a ball about without shoes in the streets of his native Cote d’Ivoire. “Boots were very expensive,” Toure told The Guardian in 2011.

“And when there are seven in your family and you say you want to buy a pair your father wants to kill you.” But in the Manchester City midfielder’s own words: “I just had a normal African childhood. Life was a struggle when I was growing up.” Toure clearly took his opportunities as they came.

He used his distinguished youth career at ASEC Mimosas as a springboard to Europe with Belgian outfit Beveren – from where he has gone on to ply his trade in Ukraine, Greece, France, Spain and England. He has among his numerous awards the BBC African Footballer of the Year.


Steven Pienaar

steven-pienaarGrowing up in apartheid-era South Africa was a dangerous proposition for Steven Pienaar, who has described native Westbury – on the fringes of Johannesburg – as a cauldron of violence and strife.

Pienaar has recalled being banned by his mother from sitting on the couch to watch television, as she feared a stray bullet would come flying through the window and harm her son – so he was restricted to sitting on the floor.

The Bournemouth man has also recalled despicable instances of racism he faced because of the color of his skin – and the joy he felt when apartheid was lifted at long last in 1994. While Pienaar was able to escape the dangers of Westbury via football, many others weren’t – soon after joining Ajax, a close friend of his was tragically lost to the mayhem of Westbury, an event Pienaar says is too painful to speak about at length.




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