Let Me Tell You Why I Love This Game
I had nothing. We had nothing.
But I was living as if I had everything.
If I could tell you one secret about my life, this would be it. Anyone can be happy — anyone can love this game. Without this mindset, my friend, I would not be sitting here as a recently retired left back who played for France, Juventus and Manchester United.
I would probably still be sitting outside a shop in Paris, begging for money to buy a sandwich.
I’m not joking. When I grew up in Les Ulis, a commune in the Paris suburbs, I was living with my parents and some of my brothers and sisters. I have 24 of them. (That’s no joke either!) So we were about a dozen people in the same house. My father was providing a lot of our income through his job as an ambassador. That’s what took our family from Senegal, where I was born, to Brussels and then to Les Ulis. But when I was 10 he divorced my mother. He took the sofa and the TV and even the chairs.
I still love him to death, but the situation he left us in was so tough. I would share a mattress with two of my brothers, and one of us would have to lie the opposite way so that everyone had enough space. When food was ready, you had to run to make sure you got your share. Some of my older siblings got jobs to help out, but then they left to live with their partners. In the end it was just my mother, my younger sister and me.
That’s when I had to go out in the streets.
I hate it when people use the word “gangster”. When you grow up in an area with gang shootings and the occasional murder, I don’t care who you are, you do what you can to survive. So I fought a lot. I would steal food, clothes, video games. I would sit outside shops begging for money.
Which brings me to the panda. In some of the videos, I’ll be hanging out with a panda or be dressed up as one myself. I’ll dance and sing and whatever, and then I’ll say, “Be like a panda! I’m black, white, Asian and chubby. Say no to racism!”
It is a strong message. I hope the panda will make people realise that we are all the same person, that we should all try to make the world a better place. Don’t judge people on their weight, the colour of their skin, their hair or their eyes. We are all humans, we are all brothers and sisters. We are one big family.
The panda reminds me of a speech that Ferguson gave us before our Champions League final against Chelsea in Moscow in 2008. We were in the dressing room when the boss came in. As usual, the music stopped. You could hear a pin drop. Then Ferguson said, “I’ve already won.…”
We looked at each other.
He said, “I’ve already won. We don’t even need to play this game.”
We were like, What is he talking about? The game hasn’t even started.
Then Ferguson turned to me. “Look at Patrice,” he said. “He’s got 24 brothers and sisters. Imagine what his mother had to do to put food on the table.…”
Then he turned to Wayne Rooney.
“Look at Wayne. He grew up in one of the toughest parts of Liverpool.…”
Then he turned to Park Ji-sung.
“Look at Ji, he’s come all the way from South Korea.…”
My only goal is to be the best human I can possibly be.
As the boss talked about our stories, we began to realise that he was referring to a fellowship. We were not just a football team — we were people from every corner of the world, from all kinds of cultures and races and religions. And now we were there, together in a dressing room in Moscow, fighting for a common cause. Through football, we had become brothers.
“THIS is my victory!” Ferguson said.
We all got goosebumps. Then we went out and won the Champions League.
That’s Manchester United.
That’s why I love this game.
Hey .. look at the bright side .... at least you're not a Liverpool fan! - Lazie 2/24/10 Paul Marin -19 is one thing, 20 is a whole other matter. It gets even worse if they win the UCL. *groan*. 05/18/2011.MU fans naah cough, but all a unuh a vomit?-Lazie 1/11/2015
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