Mamadou Sakho inspired by late father
Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho has told how he was driven by the death of his father to change his rebellious ways and become a top footballer.
• Usher: Patience needed as Sakho settles in
The 23-year-old moved to Merseyside from Paris Saint-Germain in an £18 million deal on September 2.
Sakho, though, has acknowledged that his wayward behaviour as a teenager threatened his career before it got going.
The fifth of seven children brought up by Senegalese parents in a working-class area of northern Paris, the defender says that he had to reassess his life when his father died.
Sakho told the Daily Mail: "Well, what can I say? I grew up in an area of Paris that isn’t all sweet and nice. The neighbourhood was quite tough. You have to put yourself about a bit and earn respect.
"When I was 14 or 15, I tried to impose myself a bit (too much) on the other players around me. Some of it was verbal, other times it was physical.
“But it was soon made clear to me I needed to focus and concentrate. I was told if I didn’t step in line, I’d be in trouble. I did. It was for my own good.
"The rebellious phase started before the death of my father but I decided after to take a step back and I concentrated on becoming a professional footballer.
"Life was pretty hard but I took it as an obligation to myself to become a professional. I wanted to provide for my family."
Sakho established himself in the first-team at PSG as a 17-year-old and made his debut for France against England at Wembley in November 2010.
He went on to win a Ligue 1 title medal at the Parc des Princes last season, but was ready to leave his boyhood club behind to move to Anfield.
Sakho’s career had stalled as PSG’s Qatari backers spent fortunes to bring in star names. He failed to make France’s Euro 2012 squad, and the arrival of Thiago Silva from AC Milan soon afterwards -- followed by the signing last summer of Brazilian defender Marquinhos from Roma -- convinced him that it was time to move on.
He said: "Leaving was a big step for me. I’d been with PSG from the age of 12 but there comes a time in life when you have to make some career choices. I’d achieved everything I had wanted to with PSG and I made the decision a while ago that I wanted to take on something else.
"I wanted to experience a different culture and learn new things. When Liverpool came in for me, I was easily convinced. PSG does have a big project under way and are ambitious, but my situation was based more on a desire to genuinely compete. That is something I know I will have at Liverpool.
"I came here for the football, not the money.
"I had a year left on my contract in Paris and in four months I could have gone on a Bosman.
"I put football and the chance to move here above personal gain. I think the English style will suit me. It is now time for me to turn a new page."