Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez reveals he played football in jail as a child

James Benge
Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Such is Alexis Sanchez’s love of the beautiful game he used to play football wherever he could in his homeland – even a jail – as a youngster.

The Arsenal forward, who grew up in the Chilean city of Tocopilla, has retained that desire to play wherever and whenever to this day, at times driving Arsene Wenger to frustration with his desire to feature in every game.

And in an interview with Arsenal Player, Sanchez revealed some of the extreme lengths he would go to in order to get playing time, from donning the goalkeeping gloves to kick abouts behind bars.

“I wanted to be a professional footballer from when I was small,” he said. “My mental approach was always to win and to go as far as possible playing football.

“I was always playing in tournaments and initially I played in goal. I was happy as long as I was playing football. I played with older people all the time - many of whom I really liked.

“[I played] in the street, but we also used to go to the local jail to play. We played with the people there on a dirt pitch, and I played in goal.”

Sanchez returned to Tocopilla last week for the unveiling of a statue in his honour.