NABIL Djalout would not be a key player for France at the World Cup if not for the struggles and sacrifice of his destitute parents.
They fled war-ravaged Algeria in the mid-1960s after peace had been declared to seek a better life in France, a country which was seeking migrant workers.
They arrived with nothing and relocated in the southern town of Perpignan, where they worked in the farming industry.
Djalout, 28, and his brothers and sisters were poor growing up and had to work long and hard to support the family.
Nabil Djalout will be one of France’s key players during the Rugby League World Cup. Picture: Adam Yip
Now every year Djalout, a back-rower with Catalans Dragons in the English Super League, returns to Algeria with gifts for deprived family members who live in a small village 30km from Oran.
“My parents struggled because Algeria was a country in war,” Djalout said yesterday through a translator.
“Everyone was poor. When my parents got to France they struggled because they couldn’t speak French very well.
“They worked on the farms around Perpignan … artichokes, asparagus.
“You always take your chances and my parents had to work hard to get where they wanted to get in life. They are my inspiration.
Nabil Djalout and the French world cup team have been based at Sydney Academy of Sport in Narrabeen. Picture: Adam Yip
“I am one of eight children. Every year we go back to Algeria to see the family. I was there four months ago. I go to the beach, see the family and try to take as many presents as I can.”
Early in life Djalout found rugby league and it became his passion.
Now he is ready to have a crack at the World Cup and make a name for himself in Australia.
Djalout and his French teammates trained hard in the Narrabeen heat yesterday as assistant coaches Andrew Johns and Jim Dymock watched on closely.
Having an Immortal on the French coaching staff is a massive coup.
“Now, playing rugby league, I feel like I can contribute to the family,” Djalout said.
Nabil Djalout endured a tough upbringing before finding success in sport. Picture: Adam Yip
“My major goal is to look after my family, all my brothers and sisters.”
But his background is never far from his mind.
“I spoke French in school so my life was a lot easier than my parents,” he said.
“I found it easier in Perpignan because there are quite a few other Algerian people around that went through the same thing as us. They understand.
“They were accepting of me and my family.
“All my brothers and sisters have banded together. They are all working and supporting my parents.”
Djalout could switch to centre for France, who play Lebanon in their first World Cup game in Canberra on Sunday week.
Source: Daily Telegraph