Friday, July 19, 2019

I Can’t Forget My Past –Says Gambian Refugee-turned Bundesliga Star


By Sulayman Bah

Bakary Jatta’s leap from a Gambian refugee to the German Bundesliga circle is a tale well-documented.

Fighting for football minutes with Hamburg, story of how the youngster burst on the scenes, two years ago to this day, remains a unique narrative.

Sleeping rough as a newcomer, an undocumented migrant, is not a situation pleasing to the ears.

Yet, all these memories flung open in all their freshness when he this week accompanied German publication BILD at Bremen-Habenhausen, a refugee centre that once housed him, to comfort newly arrived migrants with clothes and football cleats.

‘I never forgot where I came from. Like these guys here (pointing to the refugees), I started playing football at this place (Bremen-Habenhausen). I remember as if it had been yesterday and I see myself like them.

‘We have the same story and have taken a difficult road to come to Germany to finally live here in freedom and democracy. The most important message I want to convey to the boys is that everyone in life can achieve anything – with work, courage, a dose of luck and support from God,’ he tells Hamburger Abendblatt in German, a publication focused on his Bundelsiga club Hamburg HSV.

Jatta had the football world whistling in sheer bewilderment when he rose through the ranks of Hamburg to make his first official appearance in the Bundesliga last year in the 1-1 draw with Schalke 04.

The winger started that game featuring for 72 minutes against the likes of former Real Madrid’s striker Huntelaar and Algeria’s Bentaleb.

This season, he’d starred in the top tier in the 2-0 trouncing to Hannover.

Since then, regular playing time has been something of a herculean task to achieve despite scoring six goals in seven games for the side’s reserves in the fourth division.

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