France's top assist maker thrives in gypsy lifestyle

Published 8:13 a.m. ET May 9, 2019 | Updated 9:19 a.m. ET May 9, 2019

PARIS (AP) — Rife with drugs and weapons, the Cité Gély in the southern French city of Montpellier is a known hub for trafficking.

The housing project where big expensive black cars share the streets with groups of youngsters riding their motorbikes without helmets is also home to one of France’s most exciting players in the French league.

Teji Savanier, the league’s top assist provider learned his superb passing and dribbles skills in the neighborhood, where he still lives with his family of gypsy descent.

“This is where I feel the best on earth,” the Nîmes playmaker recently told sports daily L’Equipe. “Nothing can happen to me there. I was born there, I will die there.”

Despite the one-hour commute between Montpellier and Nîmes, Savanier never thought about leaving his community when he signed for the Crocodiles in 2015.

“When I make it to the estate, I feel cool and rested,” he said. “We are between gypsies. We play pétanque (the bowls sport very popular in France) in the afternoon. The loser goes to the butcher shop to buy meat for the barbecue, then in the evening we play guitar outside….

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