Heracles forward, Cyriel Dessers is a simple, amiable fellow with an infectious grin whenever he scores a goal, but the Belgian-Nigerian admits that he does get pissed about issues concerning his skin colour.
The former NAC Breda striker has revealed that racism is the nightmare that has haunted him since he was a kid.
Born to a Belgian father by a Nigerian mother, the 24-year-old looked different from boys his age growing up in Tongeren, Belgium.
Little Dessers was bullied by opposing players, fans, and parents and regularly attacked due to the colour of his skin, a situation that got him angry.
He lamented that referees did little to protect him from such abuses, but he found a way to carve out his pound of flesh – score goals and taunt his abusers while celebrating.
Now regarded as a strong centre-forward and standing at a little over 6 feet tall, the Eredivisie top goalscorer and Super Eagles hopeful still finds racism a sensitive topic to approach.
“My mother is Nigerian, that was quite special in Tongeren, Belgium, where I come from,” Dessers told Culturu.
“When I played as a boy for amateur club FC De Zwaluw, weird things happened.
“’Black,’ cried parents of the opponent. I was younger than twelve, but it made me angry. If I scored, I would slide on my knees just before those parents.
“And yet, racism is the only thing that can make me angry. It touches you very deeply. I think it’s because that skin colour is in me, people touch you for who you are.
“It is not a criticism of what you do, of your behaviour; it is really something fundamental. You become an object to racism; it becomes inhuman,” Dessers added.