Nicolas Pepe says he owes his career to the sacrifices that his parents made.
The Ivory Coast international became our record signing this week when he completed his move from Lille, and it represents a huge step in a footballing life that began with a young Pepe kicking a ball around on a street in Mantes-la-Jolie.
It’s been quite a journey for the 24-year-old and he doesn’t think he would have made it without his guiding lights at home.
“My parents have always been there for me,” he told Arsenal.com. “They were there during the toughest times and the best times and they are still here right now.
“They sacrificed everything, absolutely everything. My father stopped working, my mother stopped working. They came to live with me just because of football and just so that I could make my dreams come true.
“That is what they have done to this day. They helped me make this dream come true and they will continue to be by my side to support me.”
Pepe’s family emigrated to France from Ivory Coast in 1995, and their stories of that adjustment have kept their son grounded.
“They told us how difficult it was, especially when we were at school,” he said.
“They used to tell me that we had everything and they used to have nothing. They would walk 10 kilometres barefoot and we were lucky to be able to go to school by bus. We were lucky to be where we were, so we should make the most of it.
“Because of what they gave me, it makes me proud that I can make them happy.”