From the streets to the stars - Alexis Sanchez

Chile superstar and Arsenal darling Alexis Sanchez is one of the best players in the world but it certainly hasn’t been an easy journey.

MARTIN BERNETTI / AFP

Alexis Sanchez is known by all and adored by many as one of the prime footballers to grace this era. But in this awe of the Chilean, we often forget that he too is a human and did not have an easy upbringing.

A Difficult Childhood

Born on 19th December, 1988 in a small coastal town, Tocopilla in Chile, Alexis was barely a toddler when his father deserted his family, and his mother was left to do several jobs to take care of him and his three siblings.

He started earning a living from the tender age of 6, because he hated seeing his mother take up all the burden. He would wash cars, perform somersaults, and even box on the streets as entertainment to earn a few bucks from here and there.

“We were the poorest of the poor so Alexis had to earn money any way he could from a very young age,” said Humberto, Alexis’ brother, in an interview with a newspaper.

Sometimes the situation would be so bad, that Alexis used to go knocking on his neighbours’ doors, to see if they had some bread to spare!

Meteoric Rise Of A Superstar

MAURICIO DUENAS / AFP

After a host of issues early in his life, things took a turn for the better when Club Araudo’s youth coach spotted his talent and let him train for free - Alexis couldn’t even pay the £1 monthly fee!

His first pair of football shoes was a gift from the Mayor after he saw Alexis win a game for his team single-handedly – he arrived late and scored 8 goals for his team which was trailing a goal.

Alexis was soon snapped up by Cobreloa, soon after which Udinese came knocking and paid £1.7 million for the 17 year old’s services in 2006.

Over the years, he formed a flourishing partnership with veteran, Antonio Di Natale, with a tally of 39 goals between them in the 2010-11 season. His bright performances and the potential he displayed saw him being named by FIFA.com as the world’s most promising youngster over the likes of Gareth Bale, Neymar, etc.

On Top Of The World

Thanks to his consistency, Alexis caught the attention of one of the biggest clubs in the world – FC Barcelona. They readily paid £25 million including bonuses to make him the first Chilean to play for the club.

"He can play in all three attacking positions, shows intense defensive skills, he's direct and from what I've been told, he's a nice kid," said then Barcelona manager, Pep Guardiola.

Alexis scored his first hat-trick for the club on January 5, 2014 against Elche. He ended the 2013-14 season with a career best 21 goals in all competitions.

From here on, he moved to Arsenal in the 2014-15 season, and has become a vital cog in the Gunners’ wheel in hardly any time.

An Inspiration To Many

LLUIS GENE / AFP

Though just 26, he has already achieved a lot in his life. He has reached great zeniths, but still hasn’t forgotten his roots. In the Christmas of 2013, he went back to his hometown to distribute football shirts and sweets to children, and also donated £160,000 for the restoration of 5 football pitches.

For someone who grew up playing barefoot on dirt pitches, Alexis has progressed leaps and bounds to a position which he can boast about, but chooses not to. He is not only a world-beater on the pitch, but also as humble as one gets off it.

Adversities and pressure often destroy a person, but every now and then, someone emerges to beat all odds and prove that not all hope is lost. Alexis Sanchez is one such example. Surely, an inspiration to all.

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