Issouf was 16 years old. At home in Abidjan, he was good at the ball, a defensive midfielder promised a bright future. In any case, that was what it had made him shimmer. "I had been told," European recruiters will come to see you "And, like many Africans, playing in Europe was my biggest dream," he says. I met a person. Perhaps for my greatest misfortune. But I did not know it yet »
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The agent who came to "detect" Issouf presented well: "He made me glimmer things by saying that he could find me a good club in Europe. I lived at my grandmother's house. The first time I was offered to leave, she said no to protect me. When this man came back and saw that it was my dream that I could do that, she said yes. She drained all her savings and paid for my trip. "
"I was young, full of dreams and I believed everything"
Issouf boarded a plane for Italy. The man who spotted him does not accompany him. "I went to Milan and found his partner at the airport, an African like him. He told me that he had contacted AC Milan for me, swearing that the club was OK and waiting for me. We went to see the training center of Milan. But we stayed at the door. The man obviously did not have the slightest contact with the Rossonero club. "I was young, full of dreams and I believed everything," said Issouf. I stayed a few days at home but I did not see anything coming. He, of course, had taken all the money my grandmother had entrusted to me. We argued. He told me " Go away and get by! ". I took the door. Another lost child probably replaced Issouf shortly thereafter.
"I could not stay in Italy without knowing the language. My destination was France during the winter of 20015-2016. To go back to Abidjan was to hurt my grandmother and tell her that I had failed. She did not know anything about it. Issouf told him much later.
"I slept several nights at the Gare de Lyon"
Having left a winter's night in Milan, the Ivorian teenager, alone and isolated, arrives in Paris penniless. "I slept several nights at the Gare de Lyon. I thought that coming to France, I was going to have a better future. It's the worst that happened: the more it went and the darker I went. I had nothing to do and the boredom is terrifying. I was totally alone, abandoned. I wanted to honor my family and I had failed. I was at the bottom of the hole. "
By dint of seeing him sleep hidden and terrorized in a corner of the station and night buses, a passerby reaches out to the Ivorian teenager, or rather saves him by heading to "Doctors of the world". Later, he had to prove to the French authorities his status as a miner allowing him to sleep at least warm. Lost punishment: despite papers in order, Issouf was older than his age. A judge never believed he was only 16 years old. "The consequence is that I was not accepted at school either. "
At that time, football was no longer part of Issouf's life, still without paper. "I did not think about it anymore. My dream was over. I did not even want to play anymore. I just wanted to survive. Until the day he discovered Melting-Passes, an association created by law students that helps isolated minors. Now, at the age of 19, he plays in the FSGT (Sports Federation and Gymnastics at Work) championship. "They saved my life," says Issouf. Thanks to them, I found a family. The desire to live and fight. Melting-Passes also gave me the taste to play football. When you play, you forget everything. Football in these conditions is more than just sports. It is an open door to freedom, to life. "
Every Wednesday evening, Porte de Montreuil, isolated minors can play football through the association melting-Passes. LP / Icon Sport / Aude Alcover