RYAN ( Associated Press) – Youssef Fofana no longer serves pizza, but centers around the World Cup.
In 2015, at the age of 14, the player was released from Clairefontaine, France’s national training centre. His future in football seemed to be over, so he decided to work in a pizzeria.
“It was the best way to earn money and follow my dreams,” the 23-year-old midfielder said on Thursday.
Fofana made his debut for the France national team in September. Coach Didier Deschamps called him into the 26-man squad that seeks to defend the Les Bleus title.
Already at the World Cup, he came on as a substitute in the second half of two group stage matches, in wins over Australia and Denmark, as well as a 1–0 win over Tunisia.
In the Round of 16, he played the last 25 minutes of the match in which France defeated Poland.
Fortune has taken an amazing turn for a player who needed two years to find a professional club interested in his services. He played for Drancy, an amateur outfit in the northeastern suburbs of Paris, before signing with the Strasbourg youth squad in 2017.
“I had my doubts, and you have to know how to proceed,” he said.
He made his first appearance in Ligue 1 on 24 August 2018 against Lyon. He moved to Monaco in January 2020 and has reached the Europa League with his current team in 2021-22 as well as this season.
France, looking for its third world title, will face either Morocco or Portugal if it reaches the semi-finals. In other key, quarterfinal pairs are Argentina-Holland and Brazil-Croatia.