History

Where it all began

Early football memories can have a lasting potency, even for players whose journeys have taken them so very far...

Napoli

KALIDOU KOULIBALY

I used to play in front of my house in Saint-Dié [in northeast France]. We’d play in the streets and had to stop the match to let cars pass by. When I turned five, I was lucky enough to go to Senegal with my mum and I saw some children playing. I told my mum: “I don't have any boots to play football. It's going to hurt when I kick the ball.” She told me: “They're playing on sand and aren’t wearing any shoes. Why don't you do the same?” So, I took off my flip-flops and joined them. Usually, you don't remember things from when you were five or six, but I have a lasting memory of this. After that, I’d always play barefoot in the sand with them. The sand under my feet, my feet hurting a little when I'd kick the ball… I can still feel that. I’ll never forget it. It shows who I am today.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Napoli

KALIDOU KOULIBALY

I used to play in front of my house in Saint-Dié [in northeast France]. We’d play in the streets and had to stop the match to let cars pass by. When I turned five, I was lucky enough to go to Senegal with my mum and I saw some children playing. I told my mum: “I don't have any boots to play football. It's going to hurt when I kick the ball.” She told me: “They're playing on sand and aren’t wearing any shoes. Why don't you do the same?” So, I took off my flip-flops and joined them. Usually, you don't remember things from when you were five or six, but I have a lasting memory of this. After that, I’d always play barefoot in the sand with them. The sand under my feet, my feet hurting a little when I'd kick the ball… I can still feel that. I’ll never forget it. It shows who I am today.

Read the full story
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Bayer 04 Leverkusen

LARS BENDER

We’d draw a goal on the wall out of mud in the winter, as the goals were chained up at that time of year. Sometimes we had high snow, which we’d clear for an hour or two before we could play. It was awesome. [My twin brother Sven] and I had friends who’d spend every day with us out on that pitch. We weren’t aware back then that it was like a permanent training drill, but I think it helped us to get here. It’s nice to play in front of 50,000, 60,000 or 70,000 spectators of course, but just going to the next town where there’s only one floodlight, and not 20 shining on you... everything was simpler. I sometimes miss that. That was real football. You didn’t play it to become big, you just wanted to kick the ball. You played for fun and didn’t think about what might happen in the future.

Manchester City

FERNANDINHO

In Brazil, it’s very common for kids to play on the street barefoot. They get whatever ball they can find and use their imagination to create a game. Sometimes it’s two against two, sometimes three against three. One against one as well. We played in the street, or on a little pitch near my house, after school or at the weekend. They were good times. It was one street versus another, every player doing a bit of everything. Sometimes I’d start in goal because I was the youngest. Then I played in the back line. We would rotate so that everyone could play about a bit with all the positions while having fun. That was quite common when I was young in Londrina, Paraná. That helped me a lot when I came to train to be a professional footballer.

Napoli

KALIDOU KOULIBALY

I used to play in front of my house in Saint-Dié [in northeast France]. We’d play in the streets and had to stop the match to let cars pass by. When I turned five, I was lucky enough to go to Senegal with my mum and I saw some children playing. I told my mum: “I don't have any boots to play football. It's going to hurt when I kick the ball.” She told me: “They're playing on sand and aren’t wearing any shoes. Why don't you do the same?” So, I took off my flip-flops and joined them. Usually, you don't remember things from when you were five or six, but I have a lasting memory of this. After that, I’d always play barefoot in the sand with them. The sand under my feet, my feet hurting a little when I'd kick the ball… I can still feel that. I’ll never forget it. It shows who I am today.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

History

Where it all began

Early football memories can have a lasting potency, even for players whose journeys have taken them so very far...

Napoli

KALIDOU KOULIBALY

I used to play in front of my house in Saint-Dié [in northeast France]. We’d play in the streets and had to stop the match to let cars pass by. When I turned five, I was lucky enough to go to Senegal with my mum and I saw some children playing. I told my mum: “I don't have any boots to play football. It's going to hurt when I kick the ball.” She told me: “They're playing on sand and aren’t wearing any shoes. Why don't you do the same?” So, I took off my flip-flops and joined them. Usually, you don't remember things from when you were five or six, but I have a lasting memory of this. After that, I’d always play barefoot in the sand with them. The sand under my feet, my feet hurting a little when I'd kick the ball… I can still feel that. I’ll never forget it. It shows who I am today.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Napoli

KALIDOU KOULIBALY

I used to play in front of my house in Saint-Dié [in northeast France]. We’d play in the streets and had to stop the match to let cars pass by. When I turned five, I was lucky enough to go to Senegal with my mum and I saw some children playing. I told my mum: “I don't have any boots to play football. It's going to hurt when I kick the ball.” She told me: “They're playing on sand and aren’t wearing any shoes. Why don't you do the same?” So, I took off my flip-flops and joined them. Usually, you don't remember things from when you were five or six, but I have a lasting memory of this. After that, I’d always play barefoot in the sand with them. The sand under my feet, my feet hurting a little when I'd kick the ball… I can still feel that. I’ll never forget it. It shows who I am today.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!
Bayer 04 Leverkusen

LARS BENDER

We’d draw a goal on the wall out of mud in the winter, as the goals were chained up at that time of year. Sometimes we had high snow, which we’d clear for an hour or two before we could play. It was awesome. [My twin brother Sven] and I had friends who’d spend every day with us out on that pitch. We weren’t aware back then that it was like a permanent training drill, but I think it helped us to get here. It’s nice to play in front of 50,000, 60,000 or 70,000 spectators of course, but just going to the next town where there’s only one floodlight, and not 20 shining on you... everything was simpler. I sometimes miss that. That was real football. You didn’t play it to become big, you just wanted to kick the ball. You played for fun and didn’t think about what might happen in the future.

Manchester City

FERNANDINHO

In Brazil, it’s very common for kids to play on the street barefoot. They get whatever ball they can find and use their imagination to create a game. Sometimes it’s two against two, sometimes three against three. One against one as well. We played in the street, or on a little pitch near my house, after school or at the weekend. They were good times. It was one street versus another, every player doing a bit of everything. Sometimes I’d start in goal because I was the youngest. Then I played in the back line. We would rotate so that everyone could play about a bit with all the positions while having fun. That was quite common when I was young in Londrina, Paraná. That helped me a lot when I came to train to be a professional footballer.

Napoli

KALIDOU KOULIBALY

I used to play in front of my house in Saint-Dié [in northeast France]. We’d play in the streets and had to stop the match to let cars pass by. When I turned five, I was lucky enough to go to Senegal with my mum and I saw some children playing. I told my mum: “I don't have any boots to play football. It's going to hurt when I kick the ball.” She told me: “They're playing on sand and aren’t wearing any shoes. Why don't you do the same?” So, I took off my flip-flops and joined them. Usually, you don't remember things from when you were five or six, but I have a lasting memory of this. After that, I’d always play barefoot in the sand with them. The sand under my feet, my feet hurting a little when I'd kick the ball… I can still feel that. I’ll never forget it. It shows who I am today.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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