Girondins de Bordeaux defender Youssouf Sabaly has described reaching the World Cup with Senegal as a “boyhood dream come true”.
Sabaly was in the Senegal side for the 2-0 win away to South Africa in Polokwane last Friday that allowed the Lions of Teranga to clinch top spot in their group with a game to spare and secure qualification for next year’s World Cup in Russia, their first appearance at the finals since 2002.
“When I joined up with the national team, I got it into my head right away that the people of Senegal had been waiting to qualify for a World Cup for 15 years,” Sabaly, 24, told L’Equipe.
He described the scenes as masses of supporters welcomed the team back to Dakar on Saturday as “awe-inspiring”, adding: “Honestly I wasn’t expecting to see so many people. These are things that I am not used to. This is a boyhood dream come true.”
Born in the Paris suburbs, Sabaly began his career at Paris Saint-Germain but completed a permanent move to Bordeaux in the summer after several seasons out on loan. At international level he represented France in various youth categories, helping the country of his birth to win the under-20 World Cup in 2013, but there is no question of him regretting his decision to play for Senegal now.
“When the coach (Aliou Cissé) called me to talk about his plans, I was convinced right away. So maybe it is true that I won’t have the same visibility here, but people will still see me. It is my choice.”