I used to hunt animals to survive – Fashion Sakala

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Glasgow Rangers new striker Fashion Sakala has explained that when he was growing up he would often have to hunt wild animals in order to feed his family.

So humble are his beginnings that he would sometimes go for three days without a meal because his parents could not afford to provide for the family.

His resilience has now seen him become the first Zambian player ever to play in the Scottish Premiership after completing a move from KV Oostende to Glasgow Rangers.

Speaking to Zambian journalist, Kennedy Gondwe via YouTube, Sakala went down memory lane.

“Honestly, I come from a very poor family and it was very difficult for us to survive. For us to survive I was the one who was killing animals in the bush.

“Not really a poacher because a poacher is somebody with a gun, I used to hunt animals with dogs. It was very difficult to survive and I used to kill animals for the family to survive.

“That was at the age of 9, 10 to 16. I used to play football in the village. Like in the morning, I would go hunt animals and later in the afternoon I would go for training.

“I think I never paid attention so much to school. It was very difficult. You can’t go to school without food, but I used to do it.”

Sakala’s determination and commitment to succeed as a footballer were clear from an early age. His first trial saw him cycling for eight hours from his village in eastern Zambia and still managed to score eight times in the match.

That led to him having to sneak away to the city of Chingola in the early hours of the morning in order to play for local side Nchanga Rangers.

His first success came as he helped Zambia win the U20 Africa Cup of Nations on home soil in 2017, which saw him earn his first move overseas.

Even that first taste of European football proved a test for Sakala as he struggled to establish himself at Russian club Spartak Moscow and his move to Belgium was then criticised by many.

Today, he can proudly say he proved the doubters wrong with 16 goals in 33 league appearances for Oostende last season prompting offers from the English Premier League and the French top-flight, but he rejected those offers in order to play for Steven Gerrard.

“I had a lot of teams interested in me. I had two teams in the Premier League and I met them in England and they explained how they wanted me to play,” he said.

“I had two teams from the top five in France. I also met with them, but I spoke to Gerrard and after he talked to me, I felt I had to move to Rangers.

“I believe I’ve made the right decision. Even if I had the options again, I’d still make the same decision. I’d still choose Rangers.

“What attracted me to Rangers was how the coach explained what he wanted from me. Gerrard talked to me like a real man. I knew he could help me in my career.”

He is now hoping all his hard work and determination will pay dividends at Ibrox.

“I am really happy for the move (to Scotland). I think it’s a big move and I have made it at the right time,” he said.

He admits the Scotland move was never a thought that crossed his mind when he was in Chipata in eastern Zambia.

“Looking where I am coming from, people can’t believe that I am here today, people can’t believe that now I am in Europe playing for a big team.

“When I was a kid, I was having dreams of playing for the national team and playing outside Zambia.

“When I joined this team in Chipata, everyone was laughing at me. They were laughing at my shoes, my clothes, but I believed that I should be a very good example to testify the goodness of God.”

Despite Zambia’s failure to qualify for the delayed Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon, Sakala believes that Chipolopolo can reach the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

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By Prince Sobayeni

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