Saturday, January 25, 2020

Dismissed as the Wonder-kid Who Never Lived Up to Expectations – Story of Omar Jasseh’s Journey to Proving Doubters Wrong


By Sulayman Bah

In a country where football is virtually religiously followed and star players produced like manufacturing machines would to products set for the market, it takes more than ordinary talent to get one’s name written on the walls. However, so was the case with Omar Jasseh.

Now, 26 and still fighting to live a football dream, Omar was one of the brightest talents to emerge out of a zone whose reputation for brilliant football is noticed all around.

His rise came at a time when Gambia was reveling at youth football –the West Africa nation’s U-17s won the Caf Youth Championship three years before Jasseh’s discovery.

Another Baby Scorpions generation were being readied to succeed the 2005 ones and Omar was one of those tipped to get a straight notice by the national team scouts.

Shockingly, he wasn’t initially included, prompting fans shouting his name each time the U-17s lose games. This rare show of affections was being interpreted as show of disregard in some quarters but to the youngster’s legion of followers, it was but an indication of the talent he can be and his relevance in a youth national squad many thought lacked his quality.

First Division side Samger FC’s 2008 season set the motion buttons.  Fondly dubbed Jikono Mo, a mandinka corruption name for waterman – Omar was a handful for opposition teams and defenders’ worst nightmare.

Flashy football being his trademark, he will dance around the ball Samba style, flip it over, a treat aided by his perfect pint sized body then burst in sheer acceleration of pace.

Striker Ousman Jallow, now a bosom of his, could better tell of the threat the winger posed then. He came in the second-half, turning up for the Serrekunda East Super Nawettan team, an exhibition game then senior national team coach Paul Put arranged for to test some fresh-faced lads invited to the Scorpions set up.

Watta Man’s first touch of the ball was close to electrifying. He controlled well then maneuvered past an unsuspecting Scorpions’ forward Ous Jallow who went comically crashing on his bum as the rambunctious home fans roared in mock laughter.

Fast-forward 2009, he quickly attracted overtures from English Premier League outfit Chelsea and their likes. Jasseh opted for the Stamford Bridge side’s youth set up via Charlton’s U-18s.

Short spells at the London club ensued then at Crystal Palace to Toronto Football Academy which later culminated into a transfer to Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes who accorded him his first professional contract.

This was a major breakthrough for the playmaker which was expected to have been used as his platform to shoot to stardom. However, this belief went no further than a single season as the Gambian got released by The Quakes in 2011.

This setback perhaps went on to haunt the flanker as he turned something of a journeyman failing to nail down a permanent place in each of the clubs he’d later been to, leading to his evacuation from the U-20s team under late Lamin Sarr’s tutelage who were due to leave for South Africa for the U-2o Afcon.

Stints at Mjolby Sodra in Sweden, AC Kajaani in Finland and trials in Norway and in Germany with Werder Bremen yielded little to the table.

With the sequence of events, Omar’s career unfulfilled at the time threatened to plunge into further chaos. Matters were worsened by an injury before he recuperated. Those torrid moments, the player revealed in one interview, that some of his some friends deserted him convinced he is done and dusted.

In Germany, he seems to have found solace after he officially signed with fifth tier side TSG Sprockhovel this week having featured for KFC Uerdingen the previous year.

Reports there indicate he was at his latest club in 2017 but bureaucratic nature of securing work permit meant he wasn’t featured.

This new development, it is hoped, will mark beginning of stability for once in the lad’s career on the road to proving his doubters wrong that he is not after all a lost cause.

He was delight announcing signing of his deal.

‘I am happy to announce that I have signed with TSG Sprockhovel. A special thank goes to the Coach and the team manager, who went out of their way to see that I can once again get the opportunity to achieve my dreams. They see in me that many doubted and for that I’m humbled and grateful,’ he said.

‘Their endless efforts led to me securing a work permit to play in Germany. This opportunity to me is a make or break. Therefore I will do my ultimate best to see that myself and TSG Sprockhovel’s ambitions are achieved.
I would also like to thank the few coaches in the Gambia. Allowing me to train with the national youth teams, advices and encouragements they rendered truly inspired me in maintaining my form thereby securing a move to TSG Sprockhovel.
‘It isn’t often that I will take on social media to thank a person, club or organization. I did this because of the magnitude of appreciation I feel should be shared to the public. Thanks to everyone that helped me through this process, I’m grateful,’ he elaborated with optimism.

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