Bailly makes startling revelation to MUTV
Manchester United defender Eric Bailly makes a startling revelation in a new documentary entitled: ‘l’Elephant d’Afrique’, which is being shown on MUTV.
The rugged centre-back admits he did not play on a grass pitch until he was 15 years old due to the conditions in his home country, Ivory Coast, while civil war and unrest in the African nation also threatened to ruin his footballing dreams.
However, against the odds, the 24-year-old has become a United star after joining the club in 2016.
For the first time, his story is told in depth with exclusive access to Bailly’s home life, family and friends with the programme shot on location in Ivory Coast, Spain (where he played for Espanyol and Villarreal) and Manchester.
”Well, you know the situation in Ivory Coast,“ he explains in the documentary. “The pitches in our country are not great, but as we say, that's what we know and are used to. For me, that was normality, because I didn't see the difference.
"However, after having been in Europe, I realise now how hard it was for us back then and how hard it still is for those people still playing in Ivory Coast to express themselves on the pitches there.
”The first time I played on a grass pitch was actually on an artificial grass surface, a synthetic pitch. It was in Burkina Faso, and it was the first time I felt good and able to express myself on a good pitch. You can imagine that for me, playing for the first time on a synthetic pitch was a good thing, where I could express myself, given that, at the training centre I had come from, the pitch was sand, hard earth, red earth, all kinds of pitches. But there were lots of good experiences there all the same, and those are memories I will always keep in mind.”
Bailly admits the war in Ivory Coast had a profound effect on him and he only hopes such conflict can be avoided in the future.
“No-one would wish such moments as these onto one's country, or even onto the country of your worst enemy,” he says.
“It is something which changes everything, everything. War isn't just conflict between two people of three people, it affects the entire country, and it's the entire country that loses during this affair. There are so many innocent people, people didn't bring any of this war onto themselves, yet have paid a high price. So I hope that, by the grace of God, we shan't see another war like that again.”
The imposing stopper is hoping to repay the supporters for their affection and continue to be an inspiration for those back in Africa, who watch his progress from afar and have their own aspirations and ambitions.
“I want to be one of the most important players in the United team and to give the best of me, because the club has given me so much - it's hard to describe,” he adds. “My goal is, therefore, to bring a smile to the faces of the fans who watch and support us.
”For the future, my goal is to help those people who dream of being like us. If I can give an example, back home, in my home country, passing by, you might see a child of only four or five years old, who calls out to you by name.
"With the situation being as it is back there, the economic difficulties that exist there, really that's a great feeling. But at the same time, you might be thinking that you can do something for that person, and I say don't hesitate. That's someone who might be in a difficult time in their life just now and may have more such times in the future. So why not?”
'Eric Bailly - l'Elephant d'Afrique'is the latest in our series of MUTV Originals and will be available on demand now to MUTV subscribers.
Others in this series include Jesse Lingard:Boy to FA Cup hero, The Juan Show, El Diablo Rojo and Valencia: Amazon to Old Trafford.