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Ibrahima Konate surprises kids with crossbar challenge on return to Paris

Ibrahima Konate was back in Paris to celebrate his 25th birthday at the weekend, surprising local kids with a crossbar challenge – and a shirt for the winner.

Konate turned 25 on Saturday, and before joining the France squad for their preparations for Euro 2024, took in time off in his hometown.

That included a surprise trip to a local court where the centre-back hosted a crossbar challenge, with a ‘Konate 5’ shirt for the winner.

Broadcast on Instagram Live, the crowd erupted as one youngster eventually struck the crossbar, before being gifted Konate’s shirt.

It isn’t the first time Konate has returned to the courts where he began life as a footballer, having filmed his own Liverpool unveiling video in Paris back in 2021.

“I played in the cages like most young Parisians,” he told the Guardian the following year.

“We couldn’t get to see football in proper stadiums, we didn’t have the money. And we didn’t play on proper pitches, because we didn’t have those opportunities.

“But we found ways to play football whenever and wherever we could.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 25, 2024: Liverpool's Ibrahima Konaté celebrates with the trophy after the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool won 1-0 after extra-time. (Photo by Peter Powell/Propaganda)

“At school we used Sellotape and paper to make footballs to play with, and we were happy playing in the streets.

“If it was a ball made out of foam or leather or plastic it would keep us busy all day.

“We’d play in the street, in the cages, me and my brothers, and that’s why I think we have these qualities.”

Konate had a difficult end to the season on an individual level, losing his place in the Liverpool side to Jarell Quansah.

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 2, 2024: Liverpool's Ibrahima Konaté (L) and Kostas Tsimikas (R) arrive before the FA Premier League match between Nottingham Forest FC and Liverpool FC at the City Ground. Liverpool won 1-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He went unused in the final four fixtures of Jurgen Klopp‘s reign against West Ham, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Wolves, with Quansah scoring in back-to-back games to round off the campaign.

But the Frenchman should view this as a challenge as he prepares for life under a new head coach in Arne Slot, with his quality undoubted.

Despite persistent injuries, Konate ended the season having made his highest number of appearances in a single campaign for Liverpool, starting 29 of his 37 outings.