The beautiful game of football is loaded with touching stories in which success is rewarded to the diligent, hard-working and talented players, sometimes accordingly and on other, rather extravagantly.
Today he is one of the most energetic and coveted players in the world in the wake of sealing a move from Arsenal to Manchester United, but 15 years ago the Chilean international struggle hard to procure a living by washing cars in a graveyard in Tocopilla. This is the story of Alexis Sanchez, a career warrior who battled and won endless challenges to reach the peak of his footballing career.
In the northern town of Tocopilla, on the shores of the Pacific, Alexis Alejandro is born to a low-class family. One of Martina Sanchez’s four kids and his introduction to the world was overshadowed by his father Gullermo Soto’s sudden departure, leaving Martina, Alexis and his three siblings to fend for themselves.
This made it difficult to make a living in a small house in the most fringe territory of the Antofagasta locale, Alexis was made to work from a very youthful age to assist his mom. Totally negligent of the unsettling surroundings of a place nicknamed ‘The Devil’s Corner’, but that never stop Alexis dreams.
Alexis made a promise to his mom before owning his first set of boots. “I am going to be one of the best players in the world,” Martina heard that word over and over. She worked day and nights in Tocopilla as a launderette and a fishmonger, and she soon started to witness Alexis’s meteoric ascent to stardom as he sidestepped each snag that came his way on the path to success.
Alexis said in 2013: “I’d say to my mum, ‘Don’t stress, I’ll be a footballer and everything will work out – we’ll have that money‘, and she would laugh.” He was true to his word.
At 8 years old, Alexis joined a local club Araujo, where he was given his first pair of studded boots by the mayor of Tocopilla. Before turning 10, he was at that point his family breadwinner when he started to wash cars in Tocopilla burial ground. Alexis saved up the little tips he earns from the most affluent clients who trusted him to wash their vehicles.
On the football pitch, his game was brimming with a class from an early age, and he steadily forged the legend of the ‘Niño Maravilla’, which actually interprets as ‘The Wonder Child‘. He started to offer his services for territorial competitions, with team enlisting him on an impermanent basis. He never requested for money in return, but boots, balls or jersey which would allow him to continue playing the beautiful game all around the country.
In 2003, he was offered the chance of a lifetime subsequent of exhibiting his abilities all through Chile, he was acknowledged into the academy of Cobreloa, from the Atacama mining city of Calama. He kept on developing and it was just two years before he made his full cap in the Chilean top flight. “Cobreloa had a bona fide wonder. He was just a kid, just 16, with a kid’s size, a kid’s body, a kid’s brain. So he moved toward becoming El Nino Maravilla,” said Jaime Cortes, the columnist who coined Sanchez’s moniker on his full debut.
In an interview with The Sun Sanchez’s brother, Humberto revealed Alexis’s journey from his impoverished upbringing and earning a living on the streets at the age of six to a football star.
Humberto said: ‘Alexis had nothing when growing up. He had to fight for everything he has.
‘We were the poorest of the poor so Alexis had to earn money any way he could from a very young age.
‘He would wash cars for a few pence or perform somersaults for a handful of coins from onlookers. He was like a little gymnast, hurling himself all over the place.
‘The neighbours would give him a few coins for entertaining them. Sometimes he was so hungry he would knock on neighbours’ doors and ask for bread. They would always gibe him what they had to spare. On occasions Alexis would box in the street for entertainment.’
His daily release from the hardships of poverty was to play football barefoot on mud-covered streets – thankfully something he excelled at.
Humberto: ‘His poor background is what makes him so hungry to succeed on the pitch. He knows how lucky he is to be where he is and never forgets where he comes from.
‘If Alexis wasn’t a footballer he would be working in the mines like most men around here. It’s a very tough life for 300,000 pesos (£314) a month. Growing up around here Alexis had three options – mining, fishing or football.’
Having experienced childhood in wretched neediness and not knowing where the next piece of bread would come from he made his first strides towards honoring the promise he made to his mom when joining Serie A side Udinese in 2006. Spells on loan at Colo-Colo and River Plate allowed him to sparkle in South America before leaving for Europe in 2008.
Alexis Sanchez story is one of a humble child who clawed his path to success., his work rate, sportsmanship, discipline and the desire to win in Italy earned him a surprise move to Barcelona where he proceeded with his career under one of the best football manager, Pep Guardiola. He became the fan-most loved at the Emirates and twice guided Chile to clinched the Copa America. He is currently centered around icing his cake with the Red Devils.
One subject that had been running – and still is – even since before the switch was concluded, is the manner by which the sum Alexis will earn in the red portion of Manchester United. It is reported to be a whopping sum of £600,000 per week making the Chilean the highest paid player in the Premier League, with Paul Pogba coming second on the Red Devils’ weekly wage of £290,000
Coming from nothing and achieving his dream to the highest paid player in the Premier League is a genuine story to adore and take as an inspiration.
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