The 22-year-old Malian who was hailed a hero on Sunday after he sprang into action to save a child hanging from a fourth-floor balcony is a ‘backway boy’ who arrived in Europe by sea.
In an interview with a French television channel, Mamoudou Gassama revealed he left his home country in 2013 and made his way to Italy, crossing the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea to make a better life for himself.
After a few years in Italy, he moved to France, where he is now offered citizenship for saving the life of the 4-year-old who was dangling from a balcony. The 22-year-old single-handedly scaled the facade of the building and hauled the youngster to safety.
He was hailed as an example by French President Emmanuel Macron, who welcomed him to the presidential palace in Paris.
Macron told Mamoudou: "You have become an example because millions of people have seen you. It is only right that the nation be grateful.”
The backway boy was also presented with a medal for his bravery and offered a job with the French fire service.
His president in Mali, Ibrahim Boubacarr Keita also phoned him to congratulate him for making his home country proud.
The 22-year-old was living illegally in France and working in construction.