Black History Month

Why family support is so important for Mbeumo and Wissa

28 Oct 2023

Brentford stars discuss the role their parents played in their personal and professional lives

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They may have grown up in very different regions of France but Brentford's Bryan Mbeumo and Yoane Wissa are united in the belief that hard work and family support has been crucial on their respective journeys to the Premier League.

Mbeumo was born in Avallon, a town in central eastern France while Wissa's formative years were spent in Epinay-sous-Senart, a small commune located on the outskirts of Paris.

"I remember a pitch where I’d play every day, it was like a 'city park', really, but it was basically tarmac back then," Cameroon star Mbeumo said as the Premier League celebrates its diversity as part of No Room For Racism.

Mbeumo, Wissa

"We were always out, playing football, no matter the time and place. My mother could see that park from a window at home and when I had to go home she'd call my name to come back.

"Without hard work, it's difficult to achieve the goals that you set yourself. And of course you need the support of family and your loved ones. They've always helped me and pushed me to aim high."

DR Congo international Wissa was determined that growing up in a rural environment would not be an obstacle in pursuing his dream.

"The only hope was to devote yourself to sports," he said. "The only thing we wanted to do was to play football, play sport and compete basically.

"There were plenty of football pitches around, we were very lucky. I think that's what makes the difference, when you can play football anywhere.

"We would just put our shoes on, sometimes we played barefoot."

Parental advice

While Mbeumo has honed his wing skills from a young age, Wissa, who has 17 goals in 77 Premier League appearances, started out as a goalkeeper. It was heeding the words of advice from his parents that resulted in a successful switch in position, and Wissa has not looked back.

"I played as a goalkeeper until I was 13, and then I changed my position," he said. "My mother didn't want me to be a goalkeeper because she said, 'we don't see 'keepers on TV'.

"That's when we should listen to our parents. My success is all thanks to my parents, especially my dad, and the advice that he gave me."

The influence of Wissa's parents has also helped shape how he views life, and treats those around him.

"I try to be caring and attentive towards people," he added.

"I think that’s what defines me as a person, and that’s what my family instilled in me. Not to look down on anyone."

Also in this series

Part 1: How the Premier League is fighting racism
Part 2: How Sarr's family prepared him for success
Part 3: West Ham achieve Premier League equality standard
Part 4: How clubs and players supported No Room For Racism campaign
Part 5: Ogbene: It's important to teach younger generation about diversity
Part 6: Danjuma: My greatness comes from going through hardship
Part 7: How Wolves are educating young people about inclusion
Part 8: 'It's everyone's responsibility to do something about discrimination'
Part 9: Caicedo: Learning through diversity helped me reach the top
Part 10: Darren Bent on the men and women who've inspired him
Part 11: Benjamin Zephaniah on the Premier League and the legacy of Windrush
Part 12: Desailly: I looked far for my black sporting heroes
Part 13: Jimenez: Family support helped me become great
Part 14: Pittman: Sharing my knowledge will help the next generation
Part 15: Szoboszlai: My father helped me achieve the impossible
Part 16: Amadou Onana on the people who've inspired him
Part 18: Gomez: Positive black role models are so important

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