Ivorian international footballer and Manchester United star Eric Bailly told his extraordinary story, revealing an emotional glimpse of his rise from a street kid selling cigarettes to survive in renowned Manchester United footballer Abidjan. Bailly sold phones and cigarettes on the streets just five years before joining Man Utd.
The 25-year-old star, who now earns around £ 80,000 a week, born in Ivory Coast to poor parents in the town of Bingerville, told how his less privileged past almost changed his football career, and how he always tried to help his parents.
Not wanting to rely solely on his parents, he decided to trade on the black market for an additional source of income.
Bailly details the moment he signed his first professional contract with Espanyol and the speed with which his life changed from that moment.
The Ivorian left Africa for Spain after being spotted by Emilio Montagut of Espanyol Barcelona following an impressive performance during a youth tournament in Burkina Faso organized by the Spanish company Promoesport.
He said: “The second month, I signed a contract with Espanyol. I did it. I was a professional footballer.
“When I returned to Côte d’Ivoire, everyone was so happy. My whole family was celebrating. My father was delighted. He even entered the kitchen to cook chicken.
“Then I went back to Spain to join the Espanyol youth teams.
“Since then, everything has happened very quickly. I joined Espanyol in 2011 and three years later I made my debut as a first team.
“Then I spent 18 months at Villarreal, and suddenly I was playing for Manchester United.
“In about five years, I had gone from selling cigarettes on the streets of Abidjan to playing for the biggest club in the world.
“My reality has been turned upside down. Now people see me as a star, a celebrity. I have something like two million followers on Instagram. I am famous at home. “
Bailly also explains how he considers his current life to be “false”.
He says celebrity and money have seen people congratulate him quickly, but criticize him behind his back.
And it is clear that he wants to start letting his football speak again.
Bailly hasn’t played at all this season after undergoing surgery on a knee injury he contracted in the preseason, but his renewal clause is expected to be triggered.
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