“I went from fisherman to Newcastle’s number 9 and now I have a new mission in Senegal”

Papiss Cisse grew up working as a fisherman and driving an ambulance in Senegal.

He rose from poverty to become Newcastle United’s number 9, scoring one of the Premier League’s greatest goals and leading Alan Pardew’s Toon to a remarkable fifth-place finish 12 years ago with 13 goals in 12 games.

But every day of his career, even now, he asked: “Why me? He wasn’t even the best of my friends, but I’m the only one who has this chance. I ended up in Europe, in Newcastle, scoring in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.”

So, when he was a Toon player, he bought an ambulance for his hometown, Sedihou, and spent two weeks of his vacation visiting villages and donating his salary to help. This week he signed a three-year partnership with the charity Human Appeal to formalize his donation and will deliver drinking water and agriculture in his name.

Cisse said: “I worked in a hospital as an ambulance driver when I was 15 years old. When I was a child I worked as a fisherman. I thought that if one day I had money I would buy things. I can’t keep it for myself, I have to give it back. It’s not for show, it’s because I’m lucky, I have food, healthy children, the others have nothing. It comes from my heart but it gives me pleasure, it makes me feel free.

“I spent 15 days a year as a player visiting Senegal and distributing money for projects. I have my iPad full of videos, people smiling. I love to help. Everything was private, just to feel good inside and because I always ask: Why me?”

Why Cisse? Hard work, lightning quickness and ruthless finishing made him a huge success on Tyneside, with a scoring streak similar to that of Alexander Isak this season.

Papiss Cisse proved to be a cult hero on Tyneside(fake images)

Thursday marked 12 years since his goal for Chelsea, which he describes as his “passport” around the world.