Mamadou Sakho hopes move to Liverpool will reverse career slide
Mamadou Sakho, who could make his Liverpool debut at Swansea City today, hopes to repair a career that began to unravel on a chilly night in northwest France in January last year.
Sporting the captain's arm band for Paris Saint-Germain, Sakho conceded a penalty with a rash sliding challenge on an opposition forward in the 71st minute of a French Cup tie at Lorient's Stade du Moustoir.
Worse, PSG were playing Saint-Colomban Locmine, an amateur team from the French fifth tier, who promptly equalised from the resulting penalty.
Worse still, Sakho was making his first appearance under new coach Carlo Ancelotti, who had succeeded Antoine Kombouare just 10 days earlier.
Ancelotti took Sakho off almost immediately and although Diego Lugano spared PSG's blushes with an injury-time winner, it marked the beginning of a painful slide into obscurity for Sakho.
Initially, Ancelotti persevered with him but that April he lost his place in the side, telling sports daily L'Equipe he found his situation "maddening and frustrating".
He was omitted from the France squad for Euro 2012 and the arrival of Thiago Silva at PSG from AC Milan weeks later only compounded matters.
Although he made 24 Ligue 1 starts last season, he watched many key games - including both legs of the Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona - from the bench.
When another Brazilian centre-back, Marquinhos signed from Roma in July, the writing was on the wall and yet, just two years previously, Sakho had had the world at his feet.
Aged 21, he was voted the best young player in Ligue 1 by his peers and included in the team of the season for the 2010-11 campaign.
PSG teammate Clement Chantome said he was "the best defender in the French championship".
The fifth of seven children raised by Senegalese parents in a working-class district of northern Paris, Sakho lost his father a year after joining PSG and says that, as a result, a career in soccer became "an obligation".