Former Newcastle star Papiss Cisse has revealed that he quit his role as an ambulance driver in his native Senegal before going onto become a Premier League footballer.
Cisse, 38, started out working in a hospital and played for AS Douanes alongside his full-time position. However, after impressing for the Senegalese side, Cisse earned himself a move to Ligue 1 side Metz.
Leaving the ambulance service was a tough decision for Cisse, but his brother was the one that convinced him to move into professional football and hop into Europe. Speaking to Behind The White Lines, Cisse said: "Being an ambulance driver was my first job in my career, because I worked in a hospital.
"I did a lot of collections for the sick, if women are pregnant so they don’t lose their babies. Sometimes I’d have to drive two or three hours just to get someone to the good hospital. But on the other side, my big brother was telling me that I had to go and play football, because you can help your community this way. Somebody can be an ambulance driver like you, we can find another driver like you, but we can’t find a lot of players like you."
The forward enjoyed six years at Metz, scoring an impressive 36 goals in 95 appearances while also enjoying loan spells at Cherbourg and Chateauroux during his time in France. But Cisse moved on in 2010 to join Freiburg, before moving to England for the first time with Newcastle in January 2012.
Cisse quickly became a cult hero on Tyneside for his performances at the Toon Army. He became the quickest player since Les Ferdinand to reach the five-goal mark, doing so in six matches. Cisse finished the season on 13 Premier League goals in 14 games as he helped fire Newcastle into the Europa League.
Having formed a prolific partnership with Demba Ba, Cisse continued his form into the 2012/13 campaign, although he only struck 13 times in all competitions. In total, Cisse spent four-and-a-half years on Tyneside and will go down as one of the Magpies' most efficient players in the Mike Ashley era.
Cisse added: "So I went to the capital Dakar, then to France, then to Germany and after Freiburg I found myself in Newcastle – and this is my team, Newcastle United. I still love this team because when I arrived, the fans, the club – it was amazing. The people helped me in every way.
"You could see it in my first 6 months, because I felt very good and you could see it in how I was playing. In the dressing room, the fans inside the stadium, how they helped me to score 13 goals in 14 games. I always want to say thank you to the Newcastle fans, to the Geordie people!
"Newcastle is my team. I’d never supported a team all my life, but when I arrived at Newcastle, I have them in my heart. I have the black and white in my heart."
After leaving Newcastle following their relegation to the Championship, Cisse made the big-money move to China and Shandong Luneng in July 2016. He has since spent time at Alanyaspor, Fenerbache, Caykur Rizespor, before returning to France with Ligue 2 side Amiens last summer.
Cisse finished the 2022/23 campaign on 10 goals in 23 appearances. Despite turning 38 at the start of the month, Cisse has no plans to retire just yet. He finished: " Not everyone is as lucky like me, 38 and still running.
"I’m playing two games a week, running around all game and playing 90 minutes and still feeling good. I’m going to continue until my body says stop, but I can do at least two more years, inshallah."
Cisse, was speaking to Behind The White Lines, the first ever Aftercare Academy run by professionals for professionals