Western Sydney Wanderers player Alusine Fofanah was the star attraction at the Guildford Youth Centre earlier this week.
He talked to students from Cerdon College about working hard and maintaining a positive attitude as part of a Holroyd Council youth services initiative.
‘‘In football, you must be calm and focused to deal with the pressures, even when it is difficult."
The attacking midfielder from Merrylands, a refugee from Sierra Leone, shared an inspiring quote by Japanese footballer Shinji Ono, one of his favourites.
‘‘Never give up on what you love and enjoy being the hard worker,’’ Fofanah said.
‘‘I believe you need to take your opportunities and go with them, and tell yourself that you need to be the winner.
‘‘In football, you must be calm and focused to deal with the pressures, even when it is difficult, because it’s about doing your best and the people around you will know that, too.’’
The session was part of Cerdon’s coaching and mentoring clinic.
Fofanah, 16, recalled memories of visiting local youth centres, kicking the ball at parks close to home and travelling all over western Sydney for sport.
At a young age he joined the English Premier League Champions in Manchester City.
Despite scoring six goals in two matches as a member of their under 18s squad, he returned home.
He talked to the students about that disappointment but said it was important to continue to strive for excellence.
Holroyd mayor Nasr Kafrouni said: ‘‘We’re privileged to have such a young role model available to us, through our sponsorship of the Western Sydney Wanderers Football Club, to help guide our youth and community on physical activity and healthy lifestyles.
‘‘Opportunities like these give local youth new ideas about what qualities they need to succeed, not just on a sporting field, but in life,’’ he said.