19 Nov Iya’s super freestyle football skills
I played football a lot in the streets of Conakry. This is where my technique was forged. We played with an orange; we removed the skin and we juggled for hours. It's a little game that taught me a lot.
What has to be the most viral video of the summer Paris World Cup was the footage of footballer Iya Traoré https://iya.fr @iyatraore showing his outer worldly skills at the Montmartre.
Iya’s journey to global freestyle football sensation from his childhood in Kebeya, Guinea is a story of determination and talent combined.
Born in 1986, Traore started playing as a goalkeeper in the streets of Guinea at an early age. Moving to the capital Conakry aged 10, he joined a local team of amateur players and embraced the dream of becoming a professional player. His skills earned him the nickname of Sabala – a famous local goalkeeper.
“I played football a lot in the streets of Conakry. This is where my technique was forged. We played with an orange; we removed the skin and we juggled for hours. It’s a little game that taught me a lot.”
He moved to Paris in 2000 and started playing for a football club called ESP. From ESP, Traore played for Paris FC, and then Paris Saint-Germain asked him to join their under-18s team – his idol Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho was playing at the club at the time.
“This is where I met Ronaldinho who was playing with the professionals. It was great being in the same club as the person I had watched on TV in Africa,” he remembers.
Unfortunately, due to personal circumstances, Traore left Paris Saint Germain.
Spurred on by a “positive attitude” and a passion for football, he was undefeated and began performing in subways, streets, shopping malls of Paris.
“I was taking my ball to go to the Trocadero square and the Eiffel Tower, and while I was there I was having fun with my ball, balancing it on my head… This is when I noticed that tourists from all over the world were taking pictures of me.”
Most people see me as an artist or a performer. But I would love to prove to everyone I'm a great footballer as well.
“I realised the people were watching me and that they like what I’m doing. So I thought, maybe I can do this as a career. I often think about what could have been, but I don’t regret it” he says.
He was soon inundated with requests from TV stations, sportswear manufacturers and for global performances.
Inspite of his legendary status on the freestyle football stage, Iya has not given up his ambition of becoming a professional player.
“Most people see me as an artist or a performer. But I would love to prove to everyone I’m a great footballer as well”, he says.
“I need help, I need people with contacts, a chance. I still want to become a pro. That was my only dream all along.”