Live the Goal. Everyone heads towards a destination, similar to a stream flowing towards the sea. We call these destinations, "goals."
Whether or not we pursue goals for ourselves, or just follow orders instinctively as fate or whatever - we still walk towards something. After a while, some give up their paths and wander towards another, and some sit down for a sip of cold beer with their destination right in front of their eyes. I'm sure even the whiners that don't care to find out which way to go will still be walking towards something. (As Heidegger says, we can at least be the next dying person!)
When everyone outside the window seems to be gliding smoothly toward their goals, we see the reality through the mirror in front of us that such tranquil life can only happen in fairy tales. We all maybe either climbing uphill and trying to catch our breath at the same time, or going downhill suffering from a muscle pain from reaching the last peak without taking a second to feel a trace of joy of reaching the top. The intensity of life you're going to feel today could be, after all, the gravitational mass you have created yourself by commingling the weight on your shoulder with the slope of life you are walking on. If you are at least human, gravity will work for you, as well as your friend from a rich family, and that son of a bitch who sent a DM to your girlfriend behind your back. So take it easy. You are not the only one suffering on this planet. But let's not be too relieved. You are not the only person living a hard knock life on this earth either. Their lives are as difficult as yours, and the same day that you have to carry on yourself is going to take place on the same fierce battleground for them as well. Ironically, that's why we need respect for all.
There was a football player that seemed to had reached his goal. In the mid 2000’s, not only was he the biggest rookie for Les Bleus, he was also one of the heroes that helped Liverpool FC clutch the Champions League trophy with the dramatic upset, known as The Miracle of Istanbul. The “blond beard” on the pitch, his name Djibril Cisse, is never a strange one for football fans who indulge in the reminiscence of mid 2000’s football. This fabulous fashionista on the football pitch represented France, the most fashionable country in the world.
Behind the glories and joy were never ending pain and perseverance. While finishing as the top scorer four times in two different leagues, he also went through brutal injuries twice and was released from four teams across three different leagues. Cisse’s career was like that of a roller coaster ride. Having come back from a near-career ending injury, he managed to reach the pinnacle of what any football player could only dream of. Now his career has become part of football history.
We can't actually ever know all the little details of his painful walk down the slope. One thing that’s certain though is that he had broken through the fierce uphill and the agonizing downhill, and if we may be so bold to guess, his life is heading strong towards another destination. Afterall, our lives go on just like that. Live the Goal.
GOALSTUDIO met Diibril Cisse at a nightclub located in South London, UK.
Q: What was most fulfilling aspect of being a football player?
A: Fans. I always liked to express myself whether through football, fashion or whichever that could show who I am. And their reaction, the crowd I hear when I was on the pitch was something that always made my heart pound the most. As a striker, you need this interaction with the fans. When you score, you run towards them to celebrate together and they like the players who connect with them. And in exchange, they give you the support you need even when you have a bad day. For over 20 years of my football career, I wanted to have a good connection with the fans because they gave me that strength and power. When I needed to make a run to defend or attack to score the winning goal with my legs being tired during the added time, it was the fans who gave me this extra boost to make the difference in the game. For my entire career, maintaining the relationship and the connection with them was one of my top priorities. I enjoyed giving them my shirts and cheering with them after the game.
Q: How do you feel when you’re connected to fans?
words. Simply amazing and I think I am really lucky to have experienced this kind of relationship with the fans for as long as I can remember. Every time I scored goals and saw the fans’ reaction, I felt blessed with the love they gave me. Of course, scoring a goal is always an exciting feeling as a football player, but the happiness on a personal level doesn’t last long. What makes me truly happy on a deeper level is the moments we shared together, especially when it was a last-minute goal, the only thing I wanted to do was to run and jump on the crowd and celebrate together. It’s a really fun and strong feeling and I feel proud of myself because I know it made their entire week happy as well. Sometimes, we as football players forget how important the results or our level of performances are to the fans and to their daily lives. After a terrible loss over a weekend, my fans would have to spend the whole week talking about it with their colleagues and to some of them, it would have a negative impact. Knowing that, I had to give my everything every night I played.
Q: How was your relationship with the Kop?
I cherished my relationship with the Kop. I dreamed of playing for them because they are the legendary crowd and Anfield is one of the most exciting stadiums in the world. The start was great, but then I picked up a really bad injury. I managed to get back on the pitch, but it would have taken me longer, or maybe never, if it weren’t for the fans who were always behind me and supported me. As a kid, my dream was to score one goal as a professional. I scored more than one, won titles, but winning the Champions League title was something beyond my imagination. Holding the trophy in my hand and seeing thousands of people on the streets to celebrate, the first thing I had to do was to share the moment with them. I really wanted all of them to touch the trophy, which I tried, but was impossible. But for me it was my personal mission to connect with as many fans as possible on that day. I think I finished the ceremony half naked. I took off everything I wore and threw them to the crowd. It was a fun and fulfilling day.
Q: What about the away fans?
I don’t really like to play with the opponent fans, but there was one time I teased Blackburn fans because it was the season I came back from the horrific leg injury against Blackburn Rovers and their fans were singing silly songs about my legs, which of course is also a part of the game. Unlucky for them, I scored a goal in the returning match, and I had to pay back what they gave me. It was just a fun moment. Nothing disrespectful, just a fun moment between me and the Blackburn fans.
Q: What does the France National Team mean to you?
It’s another feeling to be selected in the national team. You represent your country, your family, friends, kids and yourself. As a kid it was like a dream for me to be around players like Thierry Henry and Zinedine Zidane. And to be in front of 80,000 people from my country and knowing that millions more are watching on TV, you have to bleed, you have to give your soul, give your body for the country. I was lucky to have the chance to play 41 times for France and I can say I always gave my best. Although I broke my leg again while playing for the national team, I am so proud of myself to have played for such a great team.
Q: What was your first goal like in the national team?
It was my 2nd or 3rd appearance in the national team against Cyprus. Since it was an away game, I couldn’t really celebrate with the fans, which I loved to do so much. But the feeling that I helped my country by scoring a goal in an important match (Euro qualifiers) was not in any way better than scoring for my club, just different. It was such a proud moment, which I remember like yesterday.
Q: How did you feel when you scored your first goal ever?
My first goal in front of a real crowd with a real shirt belonging to a club was like scoring a goal in the World Cup. For all of my childhood, I wanted to play in front of people, to show the world what I could do. Even though I was young, I took my role as a striker very seriously. I tried hard not to be easily swayed by what others said about me. I understood people criticizing my performances when I did poorly on certain nights, but it didn’t bother mu much. All I had to do was to score goals in the next game and that’s exactly what I did. I think strikers and goal keepers are the same. Their roles are exactly the opposite, but they should have the same mentality towards the game. That attitude and mentality helped me to land a real job as the scorer.
Q: What are your best memories in football?
The best memory in football as a child is when I played football with my friends in the parks and on the streets, scoring like 10 or 15 goals per game. Like most other kids, we would have so much fun, playing with all the seriousness 9-year-old boys can possibly hold and I remember heading back home feeling so proud of myself every evening. If I have to pick a moment from my career as a professional, it would have to be my penalty in Liverpool's penalty shootout win over AC Milan in the Champions League final. Only 5 months prior I was barely walking. After I broke my leg early in the season, I did everything I could to come back because I wanted so badly to be part of the team before the season ended. And when the manager came to me and said “Djib, you have to take a penalty,” I answered straight away “yes”, and scored. It was such an overwhelming moment, a feeling hard to describe not only because I helped my team win the biggest trophy a club can win, especially considering how crazy the game went, but also for my family, friends and the fans who supported and encouraged me during the difficult times of the injury. I could not thank them enough.
Q: What are three words that describe how crowds make you feel?
Powerful, extra boost, and love.
Q: Do your sons also play football?
They love football and they play football. They had a chance to come and see me play for the France national team, Liverpool and other clubs. And yes, they want to become like daddy, but I tell them it is not going to be an easy road. They will have to work hard and focus on what they want to do.
Q: How does it feel when you see your sons score goals?
Oh, it’s even stronger. Much more joy. I mean they are a part of me. They are my blood. They are my sons. It’s much more exciting to see Cassius or Prince score goals than me scoring a goal myself.
Q: Do you want them to follow your footsteps?
No, even now when they play football, I try to step back and quietly watch them play. I don’t want to be that kind of parent who yells at their kids or the referees and go mad during the game. I just talk to them after the game about what I saw and what would have been better in various situations. And I don’t push them to play football. They will, if they want to. It’s their choice, not mine. For now, they love football and they want to be professional footballers, so I am giving the best advice that I can. But if Cassius or Prince come and say “ok, I want to stop playing football and play tennis” tomorrow, it will be totally fine. No matter what, as long as they are willing to put in the effort to become great at what they pursue, I will support them and try to provide the best support I can. That’s for sure.
Q: What’s your new goal now that your football career is over?
Now that football is over, my passion is music and my new goal is to make a name for myself as a DJ in the music industry. So far, it has been a great journey. I was able to perform at some great festivals and clubs. It is as fulfilling as football in that I can make others happy and we can enjoy great times together.
Q: Q: What are the similarities and differences between football crowds and nightclub crowds?
They are quite similar. They need my performance to give me back the energy and send me back their love. Like football crowds, they are very reactive and I can feel that we are connected, but my job is different. On a football pitch, I am one of the 11 players, so even when I am not having a good day, I have backups. As a DJ, I have to be good every night as I am on my own. It requires not only the performance on the booth, but a lot of preparation work off the stage as well. I spend the whole week listening to various songs and working on my music selection.
Q: What do you like the most about being a DJ?
I would have to say it’s the best way I can express myself while giving people a good time. I like to share my view and music with people. While I am up on the stage in front of the DJ booth, we become one big family and have fun together for a few hours even though we don’t know each other. It’s a cool moment. I give them love and they give me love back. Some won’t recognize who I am and some might have not even heard of my name as a football player, but it doesn’t matter. They will remember me for a little while in their life when we have a blast of fun together. Then it’s a job done.