5 Rags to Riches stories in World Football

All that is needed for a game of football is a bit of open space, a football, something to mark the two goals and passion for the game.This kind of accessibility has made football popular worldwide across poverty lines. The present status of Brazil is only an example from where many world class football players have arose from rags to riches. The global sport has encouraged such players to overcome poverty, violence and insufficiency and represent their country in the world’s greatest sporting activity. We bring you a list of five players whose inspirational story of fighting against adversity has left a trail for many to follow.

Carloz Tevez (Argentina)


Carlos Tevez who was born in Fuerte Apache in an extremely tough neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, grew up among violence, drugs and poverty. He could have easily ended up living a life of crime if it had not been for his love for football. Tevez is proud of his origins and refuses to get rid of the visual remainders of his deprived childhood. He has a scar on his face caused by an accident when he was just ten months old and a crooked tooth from a street fight. His soccer skills and stamina soon saw him represent the country at Boca Juniors and later representing one of the best premiere league clubs, Manchester City.

Thierry Henry (France)


Thierry Henry grew up in the Parisian suburb Les Ulis that was considered a ghetto because of its high percentage of immigrants and its characteristic projects of tall, concrete buildings. Henry’s parents had come in from the French Antilles in search of a better life. Thanks to his parents’ support and motivation, he became a good student and an even better soccer player that led to his selection for the prestigious French Football Federation’s Clairefontaine Academy.

Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon)


Cameroon’s star player Samuel Eto’o was born and raised in Douala. His family who supported six children, had to share beds in a cramped house, but in Cameroon’s context they lived better than many. To pass the time, Eto’o and his brothers played soccer barefoot with balls that they made out of plastic bags. Samuel’s extraordinary talent was soon noticed and at the age of 16, he left for Spain where he signed a deal with Real Madrid.

Christian Atsu (Ghana)


The current Ghana footballer and on-loan Chelsea player, Christian Atsu was named Vitesse Arnhem’s player of the year. But many years ago he made his way by selling ice-cold water to pedestrians in the streets of Accra in Ghana to make a living. The product popularly called sachet water in Ghana was the only way that young Atsu could make a living in the capital while pursuing his football dreams. His inspiring story enthralled many across the world.

Steven Pienaar (South Africa)


The South African Star football player, Steven Pienaar, grew up watching television from the floor because he was within reach of stray bullets if he sat in the sofa. He even witnessed his best friend’s violent death in Westbury, a drug gang’s territory in the outskirts of Johannesburg. But he managed to stay away from crime and instead put his full focus on football, which paid off when he was spotted by talent scouts and signed with Ajax Cape Town. He left South Africa at the age of 18 to play for Ajax Amsterdam. His overseas success allowed his family to move out of the township.


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