New Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Yves Bissouma reflected on his tough journey to becoming a professional footballer and how his grounding as a youngster made him the player he is today.
Bissouma achieved a childhood dream after reaching the Premier League after his move to the club was confirmed on Tuesday, but explained how it’s been a rocky journey to the top starting at the JMG Academy in Mali.
He said, “I left home when I was 13, and leaving your parents at that age isn’t easy.
“With time and the experience of life you get, I understood that I had to forget about missing them and to concentrate on my work.
“At that stage, my dream was to become a professional footballer but I didn’t really know where that would be.
“I was only 13. I dreamed of playing in a big club and slowly but surely I’ve got there.”
The 21-year-old took plenty from his time at the academy and explained how his hard graft ensured his progression to senior football at AS Real Bamoko.
“I did five or six years there and learnt a lot, and I learnt to play football properly.
“You don’t just learn about football; you learn about life outside as well and I grew up very quickly.
“From there, I was one of 11 players chosen from the academy to go to Bamako. They picked five players and I was one of them.
“After that I went to Lille, and everything progressed from there.”
The midfielder is now settling into life at Albion and praised Gaetan Bong for aiding his transition to life in England.
“Gaetan has been like a big brother to me already.
“As soon as I arrived he looked after me; he spoke to me a bit about the Premier League, life at the club and what it’s like in Brighton and England.
“He has helped me and I know I will need him.”