West Hams cult hero Michail Antonio knows about gang culture and wants to help boys with riotous lives find a better, calmer track, he tells Jacob Steinberg
” I had a short temper growing up ,” Michail Antonio says.” When I was younger, from primary and secondary schools to 14, you simply needed to call me a dickhead and I’d have a fight with you. A physical engage. I don’t know why .”
An angry Antonio is difficult to picture. From afar the West Ham forward seems the joyou character, a sect hero who ever has a funny objective gala up his sleeve, and this 29 -year-old father of three does not disappoint when we meet at Football Beyond Borders’ part in Brixton. Antonio has given up his Thursday evening to support FBB, an education charity that uses the power of football to support disadvantaged young people in the United Kingdom, and it does not take long to understand how much community means to him.
Antonio is from south London and he looks a natural while mentoring a group of boys “whos been” struggled at academy and are here because FBB has teamed up with the Wellness Project, a homelessness kindnes, to provide care containers for young people living on wall street during Christmas.” They prompt me of my school days ,” he says.” Originating up in south London you are naturally fairly boisterous .”
Antonio speaks from the heart and he tells a fib about losing the indignation.” I was 14 ,” he says.” I’ve gone with my friends to Tooting to chill with them. Two of my friends end up going to Graveney[ a school ]. They embezzle two bicycles off two children. I was there. The next day, the morons go those bicycles to school. They stole those motorcycles when we were in uniform so they knew we went to Southfields school. One guy got taken by the teacher, the other got a call saying:’ Don’t suggestion the bike.’
” I get a call the next day saying everyone’s saying I stole the bike. I had to go down to the police station, explain everything. The guy who misappropriate the motorcycle was short and fat with canerows. I was skinny with no whisker. Certainly I still had to go because five or six parties said it was me and they were meant to be my friends.
” The next day I go to academy furiou, squaring up to everybody. I went to the last person and he’s gone:’ Do you wanna fight me ?’ I’m about to lose my manager and his hands contacts into his baggage. I’m running at him, my nephew draws me back. I catch out within an hour the person had a knife. I’m about to fight this guy and he has been possible to stabbed me. From there I’ve just been the calmest being there is .”
Not every child achieves that lucidity. Antonio knows about gang culture and he despairs at the recent rise in knife crime in London, arguing that the young are being failed by the people in power.” It’s 10 durations worse than when I was growing up ,” he says.” We’ve completely lost touch of how we need to treat teenagers. London is becoming more of a business than a lieu for pedigrees. You can’t live here. We’re not investing in the future.
” Everyone’s trying to buy a live. Everything’s turned into business blocks. There’s hardly any ballparks any more. Every little space of dark-green is turned into flats. Girls will always be there. People who are businessmen and women will turn into family. So what about kids coming up now? There is nothing for them to do .”