Onana Honours Mum And Sister For Black History Month

Amadou Onana has opened up on the crucial role his mum and sister played in his journey to becoming a Premier League footballer. 

The combative midfielder spoke to evertontv as part of an interview celebrating October's Black History Month, an annual celebration of excellence and inspirational figures from the Black community.  

Onana has a number of public idols he's looked up to throughout his life and career, figures such as former basketball star Kobe Bryant, who is the inspiration for the decision by the Blues' midfielder to wear the No.8 shirt at Everton.

However, Onana holds the greatest admiration for his mum and sister, both of whom played instrumental roles in allowing him to not only develop as a footballer, but also as a person. 

"My mum sacrificed her life for our dreams," explained the midfielder. "Because we were the ones who wanted to move to Belgium for different reasons, school and football for me.

"She had to give up her dreams to make ours a reality. She is an inspiration to me. 

"She raised three kids on her own without any help. She is the one who taught us all the values we have, being kind, showing respect and being nice. She is such a warrior because she used to have different jobs as well to take care of her kids.

"I can never thank her enough, which is why I am trying to succeed in terms of what I am doing (playing football). She is a warrior to me. She is one of the strongest people I know. I'm very proud of my mum."

Onana and his family moved from Senegal, the place where he was born, to Belgium when he was just 11.  

"Growing up and becoming a man makes you realise certain things you didn't know when you were a kid," he explained. "I knew it was a big move, leaving everything she had in Senegal to go to Belgium and try to give her children a better life. I will never forget that."

While Onana's mum played a pivotal role in helping open more doors in her son's early journey, as his football potential came to the forefront in his adolescent years, it was his sister, Melissa, who provided the support to allow Onana to recognise that promise. 

"She has played a massive part in me becoming the man I am today," said Onana. "She is the one who supported me and has been there my whole career, from the age of 12 or 13. 

"She followed me all across Belgium and people used to tell her that her little brother might have something different than the other kids, and she took it very seriously. She came to every game, whether it was freezing, raining or sunny, she always came through. 

"She started recording me on the pitch which was how I got the trial at Hoffenheim. Because of all that, she played a crucial part in my life. It's a crazy story."

When Onana was handed the trial with Hoffenheim, his sister was being treated for cancer. Yet despite the ongoing treatment, and sickness that came with it, Melissa remained committed to facilitating his journey.

Melissa is now the 22-year-old's agent, and he admitted he uses the moments of bravery and sacrifice exhibited by both his sister and mother as fuel to keep developing as a professional footballer. 

"Back then, she (Melissa) had cancer and when I went to Hoffenheim, she'd just started her chemotherapy. Shaved head and things such as that,” he added.

"Hoffenheim is in the middle of nowhere in Germany, so we had to take the train, then change trains, carrying the luggage, she was on crutches. It was a tough journey looking back to it but I am glad that we made it here. That journey just shows how strong she is as a woman. 

"These are the moments I use as fuel to keep me going. It drives me. Having two strong women in my life who were sick was a big motivation on a daily basis. 

"We have a solid relationship. It's not easy to work with your siblings, but we make it easy and have a great relationship and partnership, I guess you could call it because she is my agent now. But she's still my sister."