Legendary former Sevilla forward and current LaLiga ambassador Frederic Kanoute has advised anyone aiming to follow in his footsteps that humility is the most important element of all for a young footballer.
France-born Mali international Kanoute scored 89 goals in 209 LaLiga games for Sevilla, winning eight trophies in seven seasons at the club, including two Copas del Rey and two UEFA Cups.
Still a huge favourite with fans at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium and LaLiga supporters all over the world, Kanoute says that never resting on your laurels was the key to making it in the game.
“The advice I would give to my 18 year old self, or any other kids starting in football, would be self-confidence, resilience, determination and a big dose of humility as well,” the former Mali international says.
“Sometimes the most dangerous stage you go through is when we feel you are good enough already. You always need humility to search and work for more.”
Kanoute joined Sevilla in 2005 from Premier League club Tottenham, with his arrival coinciding with a golden era in the history of the club from the Andalusian capital.
“I did not expect so much when I arrived,” he says.
“Before 2005, Sevilla was not known as a club winning European trophies. From the first year on we kept winning, whether at national level or European level. I went there with big hopes and belief that I could do something positive, but it exceeded my expectations, which was good.”
The deadly but unselfish forward’s positive attitude saw him taken to the hearts of all Sevilla supporters.
“I am always happy when I read or hear Sevilla fans saying something nice about me,” he said. “Seville the city means a lot to me. It’s the city and club where I had most success in my career and where my kids grew up.”
2007 African Football of the Year Kanoute scored 23 goals in 38 games for Mali, the country of his parents. After leaving Sevilla in 2012, he played two seasons with Chinese club Beijing Guoan, with retirement then allowing him to focus more on two of his loves – his family and his work with youth development in Africa.
“Every moment I am with my kids is a wonderful gift I try to make the most of,” he says. “I also love my work with the Kanoute Foundation. We primarily focus on helping orphans and vulnerable children in Mali.
“The flagship project is called Sakina Children’s Village, where we take some orphans and cater for all their needs and education. We have foster mothers there, a skills training centre, medical centre as well. Today there are more than 65 children living there. Some are now leaving as they are old and strong enough to take on new challenges outside the village. That is my biggest challenge and the biggest victory in my life.”
The 41 year old is now also working as a LaLiga ambassador – attending official events around the world where he meets LaLiga supporters on the ground to share a love of Spanish football.
“Representing LaLiga all over the world has been a really good experience for me,” he says.
“I’ve had some fantastic interesting cultural trips all over the world. It is easy to talk about LaLiga as it is the best league in the world, the quality of its players and teams is proven each year in European competition. And that is why the global fanbase is growing every day.”