Ligue 1 star reveals he hid he was a footballer – until family saw him on TV

Ibrahima Kone now has a successful career at club and international level, but there was a period when his life as a professional footballer was kept secret from his family

Ibrahima Kone has revealed that he has successfully hidden his football career from his family

Ligue 1 star and Africa Cup of Nations hotshot Ibrahima Kone has revealed that his family only learned about his secret football career when they saw him on television.

The 22-year-old top goalscorer scored for Mali at the most recent AFCON tournament as his country reached the last 16, with his trio of goals leveling him with player of the tournament Sadio Mane in the overall charts. However, when he came through the ranks of his local club, the youngster didn’t want his family to know what he was up to.

He was also largely successful, with even mentions on the radio not giving out his secret. However, when Kone played in a televised match, the mold was finally up.

“When I was little I had to hide that I was playing because school wasn’t going well,” Kone told the Breton newspaper Le Telegramme (via Get French Football News). The striker, who moved to Ligue 1 from Norway, currently plays for Lorient, which is based in Brittany.

“At the time I lied and said I was going to school, when I was playing football instead,” he said. “Part of my family thought I had gotten into a crime.”

“My family once heard my name on the radio. They thought there might be a lot of people named Ibrahima. But when I started playing for the senior team of Club Olympique Bamako, where I was the top scorer, they saw me on television.”

Can you hide a football career from your family? Let us know in the comments

Kone represented his country, Mali, in the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year


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“Except for my mother who had left to live in Guinea and some friends, no one around me knew I was playing football,” explains Kone. “Even my brother, who wanted me to continue my studies, or my father, who was always traveling as a trader, were not up to date.”

After leaving Bamako in 2018, Kone spent three seasons with Norway’s Haugesund – including a loan spell in Turkey with Adana Demirspor – before moving to Sarpsborg for the 2021 season. His 11 goals in his first season with the Eliteserien club earned him a move to France, and he scored on his Lorient debut to help them score a key win over Lens before also scoring in wins over Brest and Clermont.

Kone’s three goals at the Africa Cup of Nations all came from the penalty spot, but were enough to see his country finish first in their group before suffering a penalty shoot-out defeat to Equatorial Guinea. He also scored five times in World Cup qualifiers, including a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Kenya, and is part of the squad that will face Tunisia on two legs for a place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. If they succeed, it will be their very first appearance in the final.

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