“People I grew up with are either in prison or dead.” – Mamadou Sakho, 2013
The subculture of punk stems from the depravity of the society that festers it, a deep-seated resentment for the establishment, and a disproportionate response to rebel. Mamadou Sakho has always been a punk, but never a rebel without a cause. An extension of his identity that starts high from his Mohawk, to the tip of his outstretched boot clearing yet another ball off the goal-line – his career and his 6’2’’ frame, is a monument to himself, of him defying the odds.
Growing up in the ghetto, the underbelly of the petite Paris, isn’t as scenic as you’d imagine. It was easy for a young Mamadou to be embroiled in the clandestine cliques that his friends were a part of, taking up surreptitious routines to pander to boredom and a sense of excitement. He, however, didn’t. Speaking evocatively in an interview with Jason Burt, Sakho explained how his comrades mistakes set up an example for him to know what not to do, and how responsibility was a second nature to him – responsibility for his family made him an angry, yet level-headed young man, who saw football as his escape route from the grind of everyday life of Goutte d’Or, where he was the fourth child in a family of nine.
And so it was. It was not sheer luck that made Mamadou the youngest to captain a Ligue 1 side, his hometown club Paris Saint-Germain, no less, simultaneously captaining France in every youth level he represented. He was a born leader, but, one who had to compromise his childhood for the sake of duty. Little Africa, Goutte d’Or is otherwise knowns as, the most abjectly-bleak neighbourhoods in Paris – his single-minded drive to provide a better life and accommodation for his family over-ride his need for leisure. Once he did, establishing himself as a regular fixture as PSG, he felt a burden off his shoulders displaced with another. Oligarchs were at hand, and Sakho, who held little respect for totalities of the changes brought about in the fabric of the club he loved, opted to not be deemed as expendable out of pride; and then Liverpool came calling – respite followed, in a home away from home.
Fast forward to today, it’s turmoil yet again, with papers calling him an outcast. It’s a sad sight, any way you look at it. Mamadou Sakho is one of those throwbacks who would run through a brick wall, for the Liverpool cause, yet most fans turned on him at the first opportunity, when he was falsely accused of taking illegal substances. The very same Mamadou Sakho, who was the Merseyside club’s foremost defender last season. The ban deprived him of the chance to play a telling part in two finals, for club and country, and two quite probable winner’s medals.
“You’ll Never Walk Alone gives you a real frisson, a real shiver down your spine. But what it also does is transform you into a warrior who wants to go and fight for the ultimate, fight for that Liverpool shirt.” – Mamadou, 2013.
Injury coupled with a couple of misdemeanours in pre-season put him in the fringes of the Liverpool squad, and if reports are to be believed, Mamadou could be on his way out on loan. In light of this, there are a few things that need to be addressed here.
I would understand and entirely empathise with Juergen Klopp wanting to rule with an iron hand, instilling the sort of discipline that would make your knees quiver if you get on the wrong side of the otherwise ever-gregarious German. But to shoehorn Mamadou Sakho into the cookie cutters of every other footballer, would be remiss. The Frenchman had the onus upon himself on always being the example, an unhealthy, joyless upbringing where every effort was directed to an end. In Liverpool, he found himself the adulation and the love, and also without the tow of a captain’s armband weighing him down, for the first time – and he felt liberated enough to be the class clown, perhaps, once too many for Klopp’s liking.
This article is not to make excuses for Mamadou, but to preach sensibility in light of the brazen, irresponsible, unsolicited censure directed at him. This loan spell may be nothing more than an exercise to get his fitness up to speed, considering the lack of competitions Liverpool are in, and the number of centre backs who are currently ahead of him in terms of match progress.
We at The 4th Official have very little doubt, that this impending loan spell, wherever it may be at, will be yet another challenge for Mamadou to tackle into yesterday – with all the impudence of a punk from Paris.