Six years ago I was playing ball barefoot—Nicolas Jackson

Chelsea Sign Nicolas

Chelsea forward Nicolas Jackson discussed his journey in football from a remote village in Senegal to Europe. Jackson while in an exclusive interview with the Telegraph Sports, discussed his struggles until he rose to fame. The Senegalese disclosed that around 2017 he was still playing football with his bare foot because he couldn’t afford a pair of boots.

“In Ziguinchor, it was playing on the streets, playing with your friends only,” said Jackson. “No club, just playing because you love the game. Maybe playing, one euro each, against each other. Having fun, playing without boots. Just barefoot, or maybe you borrow someone’s boots to play.”

Asked if he had his boots as a child, Jackson replied:

“No, boots were expensive. I played in my school shoes or with bare feet. Maybe 16 was when I got my first boots. My mum bought me them, they were cheap, not like the original boots. They were second-hand boots. I didn’t play with them to start with because I was not used to them. I was used to playing with my bare feet. So it took time, it was a bit strange.

Jackson revealed the reason behind his celebration after he scored his first career hat trick against Tottenham:

“When I was growing up, I loved Cristiano Ronaldo. I had his name on a shirt that I always wore. Not an actual shirt because they are expensive, so you don’t buy them. But I had a shirt that I put 7, Ronaldo on with a pen. I did it myself when I was a kid.

“Of course, I would pretend to be him, but it was difficult to watch his games because you needed to pay. We would go to my friend’s house, everybody. We would watch in a large group, never just with one person in the house. All my friends, we’d all go to one house to watch Real Madrid.”

Jackson’s admiration of Ronaldo explains why he marked his first career hat-trick, against nine-man Tottenham Hotspur, with the Portuguese forward’s famous ‘siuuu’ celebration.

“I always did his celebration, even when I was at Villarreal and I scored two goals,” said 22-year-old Jackson. “So when I got a hat-trick, I had to do it. Now I’ll only do it for hat-tricks, not every goal.

“It was my first career hat-trick. It was very special. The ball is in my lounge, so everyone can see it. I hope there will be many more, but the first one is always very important and I will try to keep it very safe.”

Jackson’s breakthrough came when he was first seen by former Senegalese striker Diomansy Kamara who played for Fulham. He joined Casa Sports, in 2018-19 before moving to Benfica for trials. He joined Villareal in Spain, where Unai Emery gave his big chance. Then last summer he signed with Chelsea for a deal worth £32m.

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