Nsiala on his charity pledge and how seeing the poverty in Vietnam changed his life
In a fascinating and revealing interview in Saturday’s matchday programme, Toto Nsiala talks about how seeing the poverty in Vietnam changed his life and why part of his wages go to an orphanage in Congo.
The Town defender was born in war-torn Congo but moved to Paris with his family when he was young before making Liverpool his home as a teenager.
He didn’t play football until he was 15, then got picked up by Everton and joined their Academy. When the Toffees released him, he ended up going travelling and it eventually took him to Vietnam.
"Vietnam was a proper eye opener for me,” said Toto.
“At that time, I didn’t have a job, I had no money coming in and I was getting depressed. But when I looked around and saw the poverty around me over there, yet the people were still happy about life. It put things into perspective for me. It made me realise what I did have in life.
“When I came back to England, every bit of money I earned I was grateful for. Everything I have earned now, I’m grateful and now I give a lot back to the people who were there for me. That is an unbelievable feeling.
“My mum’s outlook on life has always been ‘whatever you earn, at least 10 per cent of that goes back to people who don’t have what you have’.
“That is what I have always followed. Some of the money I get from playing football goes back to an orphanage in Congo. It may not be as much as famous people contribute to other places and charities but at least it’s helping 15, 20 people and that’s a blessing. I send some back to my mum and dad as well. My dad is paralysed. He doesn’t work and he and my mum have always been there for me.
“My dad was paralysed at the same time as I was released by Everton. That was a tough time but his outlook on life is so positive. I’m like that now. I’ll ring him up when we have lost or been on a disappointing run, like we have been here and he’ll say ‘you’re healthy, you’re doing what you love. Block out the negatives and concentrate on the positives’.”
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“I was just horrible! The injured players in the U16s and the U18s would go and see the physios for treatment and they’d say ‘you have been ‘Totoed’”
“I felt all eyes were on me after that. I just needed to get away on my own, where no one knew me and find myself”
“I’ve got friends who were on the wrong side of things but they always looked after me. If there was a scrap, they’d make sure I was kept right out of it because of the football”
“I won’t be staying in football. There are different things for me to do that can benefit people more than me staying in the game. Also, I can’t be dealing with that stress!”