NOT many make something of their lives outside Les Moulins, a rough suburb to avoid in the picturesque city of Nice.
But Malang Sarr is an example that anything is possible.
Chelsea signing Malang Sarr comes from an impoverished suburb of NiceCredit: AFP or licensors
A local hero, Sarr has a street park named after him in Les MoulinsCredit: Twitter
The highly coveted 21-year-old defender has hit the big time with a move to the Premier League.
Joining Frank Lampard’s Chelsea on a free transfer after his contract expired, Sarr has signed a five-year deal with the Blues and is expected to be sent out on loan to gain valuable game time.
It’s a transfer that he could only have dreamed of growing up on an estate in a disadvantaged neighbourhood in the French Riviera.
However, despite his rapid rise through the ranks at Nice – Sarr has never forgotten his roots.
DOING HIS BIT FOR CHARITY
Sarr understands what he achieved was against the norm for kids from Les Moulins.
That’s why he became an ambassador for the Adam Association.
Formed in 1977, the charity works with children and young adults from the poor area and gives them opportunities they may not get.
Educational support for kids is high on their agenda, as well as social and professional integration for young adults.
Sarr turned to the Adam Association himself, when it came to needing help with his school work, so he understands exactly what they represent.
When Sarr was a boy he relied on local charity Adam Association to help him with his studiesCredit: Getty Images – Getty At the turn of the year, Sarr made an appearance at one of their meetings to hand out certificates for 23 graduates of a security training course.
He told his audience: “Knowing that we all come from Les Moulins and seek to follow the path of those who have achieved great things in the neighbourhood is the only thing you should have in mind.
“You should not put up any barriers because luck is made, in sport and in all other professions.”
IN HIS HONOUR
Last year, Sarr’s remarkable rise was recognised in Les Moulins.
At only 20, he was immortalised with his very own park named after him in the district.
The street park features a mural of the local’s hero painted on a wall, while naturally there are goals for kids to practice with and aspire to be the ‘next Sarr’.
Sarr understands he’s a role model for the people who have supported him and his epic ascension from Nice youth product to potential Premier League star.
“To be able to give back to the neighbourhood, to give back to the city, all I could have is the least of things,” Sarr revealed.
“It’s a neighbourhood where life is good, everyone is pleasant, where everyone loves each other and is generous.
Sarr’s street park features a mural of the new Chelsea star
Sarr joined Nice when he was six, spending 12 years developing with the club’s academy.
He made his debut in 2016 – scoring and becoming the second youngest goalscorer in Ligue 1
history in the process.
And under Nice manager Patrick Vieira he became a mainstay of the first team, filling in at left-back as well as playing in central defence.
The former Gunners legend also sees something of him in the talented Sarr.
“He has the personality of a leader,” Vieira told Sport365 in 2019. “He answers simply and clearly.”
Clearly, Sarr is a leader on and off the pitch.