'I went from fisherman to Newcastle's No.9 and now have a new mission in Senegal'
Source: Mirror

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

He rose from poverty to become Newcastle United's No.9, scored one of the Premier League 's greatest goals and shot Alan Pardew's Toon to a remarkable 5th place finish 12 years ago with 13 goals in 12 games.

But every day of his career, even now, he asked: "Why me?! I was not even the best of my friends, but I am the only one to get this chance. I ended up in Europe, at Newcastle, scoring in the Europa League quarter final."

So when he was a Toon player he bought an ambulance for his hometown Sedihou, and spent two weeks of his holidays visiting villages and giving away his salary to help. This week he struck a 3-year partnership with aid charity Human Appeal to formalise his giving, and they'll deliver clean water and agriculture on his behalf.

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

Why Cisse? Hard work, lightning quick off the mark and a ruthless finish made him a big hit on Tyneside, with a goal streak similar to Alexander Isak is on this season.

Papiss Cisse proved to be a cult hero on Tyneside ( Image:

He said: "That goal at Chelsea came from Alan Pardew the coach. We were winning 1-0. I scored it, a proper striker goal, control, shooting quickly. At half time we saw Pardew's face. He told us: "We want to win, not a draw. He made that demand. He was serious.

"We fought and tracked back, stayed compact. When I got the chance, I thought shoot. I didn't aim the ball to go there (in the top right corner with a huge left to right swerve). I just think it was my night!

"So I shot, but I didn't know it would go in. Just somewhere close in that direction. I thought Oh my. I was so happy to score this goal in my career.

"It is like my passport around the world! Everywhere I go people say 3-4 times a week, how?! I honestly don't know!"

Cisse scores his wonder goal at Chelsea 12 years ago ( Image:

Action Images) Cisse netted 37 goals in 117 appearances for United after signing form Freibourg for PS9m, and went on to play in China.

He said: "I am so proud of Newcastle. To wear No9 was amazing, so many stories about the shirt. The man who wears it is another level. Alan Shearer. You have to keep this No9 level high. I didn't score 100 goals but I got some amazing goals.

"I am a fan now. I never supported a club in my life until Newcastle. My second home. Everywhere I go everyone asks about Newcastle. I check the scores and say to my son if it is 0-1, don't worry they will come back! I love this club.

"I was so happy when they got Champions League and how they stood up this season playing in it. They showed the future and what they can be. Beating PSG 4-1. This is their position.

Pardew's side finished 5th, the highlight of the Mike Ashely era, with Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba, Hatem Ben Arfa and Fabricio Coloccini... and his "brother" Chieck Tiote.

Papiss Cisse had a good relationship with Cheick Tiote ( Image:

Serena Taylor) Tiote's death is another reason why he feels so lucky and wants to be a giver. Cisse wants to play a tribute to his team-mate, who he visited two days before he died suddenly training with his club in Beijing.

He added: "Tiote and (Josef) Sural (who died in a coach crash in Turkey that Cisse survived), they are my teammates. Tiote was my brother. We were so close. He was family. He wanted to go to China, for 2-3 years, then look after his family.

"I was at Shandong, he was in Bejing the big city. The week he passed away I saw him. If I had a day off I'd always say Cheicky I'm coming to see you. One hour on the train. My driver's phone rang on the way to training. He has the terrible news: Your friend in Beijing, Cheiky has died.

"I started to ring him, time after time, about 100 times and no answer. I was just pressing ring him, ring him. A friend rang and said it was true. 'But I was only with him two days ago.' My club, all the board and manager were waiting for me in my rooms. Everyone saying sorry. I was always trying to get our president to sign Cheicky, saying we need him. Take him.

"Honestly it was the worst moment of my life. I could not think. My brain stopped. He was more than a friend. I loved this guy and got the same from him. We called about any problem to discuss, our families, career, anything. He is the one I cannot forget in my life. Even when he passed away I still love him. I owe it to him to explain what a good person he was, noyt just a footballer, generous heart. Amazing, cool guy, yes on the pitch crazy, but outside a different person."

Papiss Cisse celebrates another Newcastle United goal ( Image:

Action Images) On a happier note, Cisse is still playing... a kind of Premier League Legends game every week. It revives old skills and camaraderie, and keeps everyone happy.

"I am training with the ex-Premier League players, every Tuesday. It is amazing. If you are on the losing side you pay for the pitch hire! It is a good game. You want to see these people who you have played against on the proper pitch. Now it is not a job. It is more than a job because no one wants to lose!

"It is 9v9. The Premier League comes back! It is great. Danny Simpson, Lescott, Steve Ireland, lots of us. Sometimes Ireland makes us a friendly game and we have a side and a bench. A proper team. We have never lost! There are a few medals there! We need to get Sky TV interested."

Human Appeal, a leading humanitarian aid charity, has announced a 3-year partnership with the Papiss Demba Cisse Foundation, to deliver life-saving projects in Senegal. To launch the partnership, Human Appeal and Papiss Demba Cisse Foundation will host a ' Football Legends Gala Dinner', taking place on Monday 6th May at The Hilton hotel, Deansgate Manchester. www.humanappeal.org.uk

Committed to positive change in Senegal. For more information please visit www.cissefoundation.org