Mamadou Sakho

Mamadou Sakho: From Liverpool Reject to King of Crystal Palace

He was humiliated; considered an outcast and deemed surplus to requirement at Liverpool. But exceptionally, Mamadou Sakho is now proving his worth somewhere else; this time at Crystal Palace, in the South East of London.

The last one year has certainly been a traumatic one for Sakho. He was barely three weeks away from accomplishing his childhood dream of representing his country in a home tournament and one game from winning the Europa League with Liverpool. At this time, France was gearing towards hosting the European Championship while the 27-year-old was in great form for the Reds and even plundered his side’s equaliser in that jaw-dropping comeback against Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals.

But like a natural disaster, Sakho watched helplessly as his hopes crumbled and faded into thin air. He tested positive for a fat-burning substance and was afterward banned from all football-related activities for 30 days. Consequently, the 27-year-old went on to miss his club's last eight games of the season, including the Europa League final in Basel and was then snubbed by Didier Deschamps. Sakho was left utterly disappointed and dumbfounded; he had just struck a fine goal for his club in the 4-0 win over rivals, Everton; a game which happened to be his last till date.

“Whatever I go on to do in my career, it cannot replace what I missed out on with Liverpool and France.ed away from me three weeks from being realised … that was hard. But I knew I wasn’t a cheat.” - Sakho told Canal Football Club.

And more painful for the ex-Paris Saint-Germain defender was the fact that he was later cleared of any wrongdoing and the case finally dismissed by the continent's soccer ruling body.

His wife, Majda, echoed his frustration revealing that “everything he had been doing had been geared towards representing his country in a home tournament". This prompted the left-footed defender to shun the tournament and instead volunteered to spend time in Senegal and Ivory Coast, plunging himself into working for charity. In the end, France finished as runner-up to Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal while Liverpool lost to Sevilla.

But unknown to Sakho, the real trouble awaited him at Merseyside. His Liverpool career subsequently headed for the abyss after a couple of unrecognisable bust-up with his manager, Jurgen Klopp. Although the 27-year-old ultimately was to blame for his ordeal, he did show signs of remorse by apologising; but apparently, it fell on deaf ears. This left the French defender further frustrated revealing that “I paid my fine, I was sanctioned, I apologised to my team-mates and my manager. Aside from that… I do not want to go into the controversies". As a result, he was banished from the senior squad and only played competitive football with the reserves.

Then came the turning point. With the Eagles enduring just one clean sheet in six league games since Sam Allardyce's appointment and two in 30 matches, the defensive tactician needed reinforcement in the January transfer window and startlingly, he turned to the 27-year-old. And the ex-England boss' purported gamble seem to be paying off considering Sakho has been a rock at the back since his arrival. His instincts to block, tackle and stifle in the penalty area have been sharper than ever. No wonder Palace haven't conceded in all three games he has featured and more remarkably, they've won all.

Yet, Allardyce is seemingly mystified by the defender's impact at Selhurst Park admitting that "he has settled into the environment here extremely well and worked hard to get himself fit; now he is showing what a good defender he is". Three successive victories have taken Palace out of the drop and headed for safety. However, many are still in shock over Liverpool's resolve to allow the Frenchman leave Anfield at the first instance. Even Egland legend, Gary Lineker, joined the inquest, he said: "I'm surprised they let him go".

The Reds might parade the best attack in the league but then, their defence, which has shipped in 35 goals, is by far the worst among the current top seven sides. But that, for now, is apparently not the concern of Sakho, who is belatedly receiving the plaudits he so much deserves by the club, management and fans. He is in line to win February Player of the Month award which will be the perfect acclamation for the player.

About the Author Toby

An unrepentant soccer freak other freaks call geek.

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