West Ham United forward Michail Antonio has admitted that he almost quit football as a teenager before turning professional.
The 29-year-old revealed that before signing his first professional contract at Reading, he had reached a stage where he believed he wasn’t going to make the step up.
Antonio has just started his fifth campaign as a Premier League footballer with the Hammers, with injury set to keep him out until February according to Claret and Hugh.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Antonio shared that the pressure on his shoulders growing up nearly led to his downfall before his brother played a key role in his development.
“There was one stage in my football career where I thought I wasn’t going to make it,” he said.
“We didn’t have much money growing up and my dad always said to me that football wasn’t a real job.”
“I remember going home one day and telling my brother that I was going to give up football because I was 17 and was too old. My brother said he wouldn’t let me.”
Antonio definitely had the last laugh after the pressure put onto him by his own father. To be consistently told that football isn’t a real job must have made it even more difficult for him to clear his mind and try and impress. He has done just that throughout his career and is reaping the rewards of being a Premier League footballer. The 29-year-old didn’t rest once he had made it to the top-flight though, and has played some of the best football of his career during his stint with West Ham. Antonio has scored 26 goals in 112 top-flight appearances, impressive when you consider that he only scored two more goals in the Championship, despite making 30 more appearances. His injury setback is obviously gutting, but Manuel Pellegrini will be backing his forward to come back and make an impact towards the end of the season, and continue to prove people wrong.