• April 1, 2024

“I began playing football on streets at a young age in hope of making ends meet one day”- Aspiring Pro Says

By Fatou B. Camara

An aspiring football player named Imran Saidyliegh, who is hungry in football, said he began playing the game in the streets of the Gambia at a young age with the hope of becoming a professional to make ends meet.

“I choose football because it is the only sporting activity that can make me who I want to become that is why I choose it over all other sporting activities.”

As with all young Gambian players, Saidyliegh is versatile and dreams of representing his country in the Gambian national shirt.

Imran is a versatile center back with a left foot who also plays as a fullback. In 2018, he joined the Sosseh Town Junior Team at the youth level before he advanced to the senior team, where he participated and helped the group win a prize.

Imran added to his resume by winning his first trophy in his first year playing at the Sinchu Alagie youth and sport community Nawettan with Medifa Jr. Football Academy.

Under the direction of coach Batch Samba Ceesay, Imran participated in his first official nawettan in 2019 in Serekunda West, representing Pencha FC, a team headquartered in Dippa Kunda. Nema United Community FC of Farato welcomed him into the third division after he finished the Nawettan in SWESO.

“The experience of playing in the third division was very tough for me to showcase my talent in the division especially playing in West Coast. The grounds we played on are not favorable and some grounds are hard to play which is one of my challenges.”

Imran, also known as Rafael Varane (France and Manchester United footballer) participated in preseason training with Nema United in the 2020–2021 season, however he left the squad early due to a knee injury.

Returning to his original club Nema in 2022–2023, Imran was able to secure a spot in the team through the completion of the season.

In 2017, Imran, who had his brother’s encouragement to pursue a career in football, completed his education at the Kunkujang Keitaya Junior School and later graduated from Muslim Senior Secondary School.

“After my graduation, I was enrolled at GTTI where I studied electronics engineering for two years.”

Combining education and football is a daunting task in the Gambia but Imran has a solution to it. “It’s not simple, but I managed it. However, I was completely focused on football and considering how to turn pro.”

Additionally, Saidyliegh received an invitation to compete in a tournament honoring the late Malang Fofana in his hometown of Jokadou Dasilameh. He was a member of Munyini FC and helped them win a trophy. In this tournament, Imran made significant contributions which earned him the best player of the tournament award.

“In 2022, I participated in authentic nawettan football at COSDA Zone, representing Sporting Bee’s Football Academy. Although we lost in the semifinals, we maintained a perfect record throughout the competition. We possess the greatest defensive record in the COSDA tournament’s history.”

Imran would love to play for Liverpool in the English Premier League as well as Real Madrid, two of the biggest clubs in Europe with a rich history.

“My expectations are high I want to qualify Blue Star into the second division that’s me and my teammates’ mission.”

Since he is still striving to complete his purpose in the club, Imran Sayyliegh’s mission remains unfulfilled. With a great dream that will need effort, Imran is prepared to take on the task.

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