Newcastle United winger Christian Atsu has revealed that he still plays football without boots when on holidays in Ghana.
The 24-year-old has been a regular feature for the Black Stars since making his debut in 2012, and has so far participated in two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments and a Fifa World Cup in 2014.
Contracted to English giants Chelsea, the attacker is currently on loan at Championship side Newcastle United, and has also played for a host of top clubs including Everton, FC Porto of Portugal as well as Spanish team Malaga.
“When I was young, we played on the streets barefoot every time,” Atsu was quoted as saying by The Sun.
“Always and always, I was out playing football because I loved the game.
“I remember my first football boots really well – they were Puma.
“When I started to play with boots, it was when I joined my first team Accra Under-12s, because when you are at a club, you have to use boots to play.
“I found it difficult to play with them! It was much more difficult than bare feet.
“I got used to it over time but even when I went to Ghana’s Feyenoord Academy [now West African Football Academy], there were people playing who couldn’t play with their boots.
“They would have to be trained how to use them.
“Any time I go to Ghana now, I still play with my bare feet on the streets. I love to do it.”
In 2015, Atsu was speculated to have made the provisional list of nominees for the Ballon d’Or, same year he was shortlisted for the African footballer of the year accolade.