Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

In a remarkable journey, promising footballer Youssouf Fofana has gone from serving pizzas to delivering crosses in the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Fofana was dropped from Clairefontaine, France’s national training center in 2015. Following the development, his future in soccer seemed to have ended. So, he went to work for a pizzeria to earn his livelihood.

“That was the best way to earn money and make my livelihood during that period of my career,” the 23-year-old midfielder said during an interview.

However, destiny had other plans for the struggling player. Fofana continued his hard work of training in football and part time delivery of pizzas. His dream was finally realized when he made his French national team debut in September. Subsequently, he was also picked by coach Didier Deschamps for the 26-member team that is defending Les Bleus’ World Cup title.

The youngster entered as a second-half sub in the group stage wins over Australia and Denmark, started in the 1-0 loss to Tunisia, and played the last 25 minutes of the round of 16 victory over Poland.

It was quite the turnaround for a player who needed two years to find a professional club. He played for Drancy, an amateur side in Paris’ northeast suburbs before signing with Strasbourg’s youth academy in 2017.

“I had my doubts, and you have to know how to move forward,” said Fofana.

The promising footballer made his Ligue 1 debut against Lyon on August 24, 2018, then moved to Monaco in January 2020 and reached the Europa League with his new club in 2021-22 and the current season.