Y oussouf Fofana is not the only player to have graduated from the concrete pitchesof the Île-de-France to the France team, but few have followed such an unconventional path.
The Monaco midfielder is the embodiment of the idea that maturity is not measured in years but in experience. When he joined Strasbourg at 18, he had already endured more setbacks than many players suffer in their entire careers. “We are one of the countries that has the most access to pitches and it’s the first sport we can play together freely,” says Fofana as he attempts to explain why France develops so many young players.
Riyad Mahrez, who grew up in the same region, articulated a similar argument a few years ago. “We always play outside,” said Mahrez. “When I go out in England, I never see people playing outside.
Other countries don’t make players the same as France. In France, you can be outside because there are small football pitches everywhere.” That raw talent is nurtured by what Fofana calls “the infrastructure” – prestigious academies such as Clairefontaine or Monaco.Read more on theguardian.com