Anthony Martial.

Exclusive interview: The making of Anthony Martial

In the January 2019 edition of Inside United magazine, Anthony Martial tells the story of his rise through football's ranks - explaining how he drew inspiration from his family when growing up in his native Paris.

The Frenchman started playing for CO Les Ulis at the age of six, where our club legend Patrice Evra also played when he was young. 

Martial then moved to his boyhood club Lyon in 2009 and Monaco in 2013, prior to joining United in 2015. He instantly became a fans’ favourite with a debut goal against Sunday’s opponents Liverpool and has never looked back.

The club’s official magazine, Inside United, sat down with our no.11 to find out what shaped him during his formative years and what his upbringing was like.

“I must have been nine years old,” said Martial, when asked at what age he first realised he wanted to be a professional footballer. “I came from a family of footballers, my dad played for a small team but he was always a big football fan.

“One of my brothers played too [elder brother Johan, a former French youth international currently at Maccabi Petah Tikva in the Israeli Premier League]. He’d gone off to play for Paris St-Germain quite early on, when he was young, which also gave me the desire to follow in his footsteps.”

Anthony was encouraged by his family but felt no pressure from his loved ones to make football his chosen career pathway.

“I think it was me, really, then my family,” he explains. “I think they spotted from an early age that I had some talent but, after that, it was just playing for fun at the beginning. They never thought or said to me you absolutely have to become a professional footballer.

“It was more about having fun, and then I’d just see how things went for myself. So it was more playing for my own pleasure and, as time went by, I began to see that I could be, or at least try to become, a professional footballer.”

Through his adolescent years, Anthony admits he didn’t take his studies as seriously as he could and found it tough, but did his best to appease his family and make the most of his school years.

“Being honest, I wasn’t all that! But for the town where I grew up, you couldn’t really be serious,“ says Tony. “It was just impossible, what with all my mates, and the environment we were in, you just couldn’t be that conscientious.

“But in spite of all that, I still tried to do the best I could because my mum and dad would be on my case – and they didn’t mess about! However, I did try to make the most of my studies, but it wasn’t easy.”

The day a star was bornVideo

Paris has produced many talented players – including Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Blaise Matuidi and Kylian Mbappe to name a few – who helped the country win this year’s World Cup.

Martial puts it down to what life was like when the current generation of French footballers were growing up in tough places to live.

“I think it’s more about what it was like back then,” he says. “Nowadays you could say it’s more difficult because everyone has a mobile phone.

“Back then, we didn’t have all that stuff. All we wanted to do was to go out and play footie. Just to play football. I think it’s that which helped make that difference because where we come from, people don’t dream of becoming, I don’t know, engineers or whatever it might be.

“Some people want to be singers or rappers, others want to be footballers or play basketball. It was more about getting a job which had something to do with sport. That’s maybe why we all played football from a very young age, following and imitating what we’d seen on TV.”

You can read the full interview with Martial in the January 2019 edition of Inside United, which is on sale now and available online.

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