Sep 3, 2008, 7:07 AM
T-Boy captained the Scorpions up against the Bafana Bafana in June and has become an integral part of his clubs surprise performance in this year’s league. If there is any Gambian player who has a story to tell, is the Gambian defender who at some time of his footballing life comes back to The Gambia to pick form with the hopes of winning another contract.
Here is the full text of the exclusive interview Abdou Jammeh had with Nna Gambia News Online:
Nna Gambia News: Abdou, life seems to be good for you in your new club in Finland, tell us about how it feels being that club?
Abdou: First of all, I just thank Allah for opportunities he provided for me. It is obvious that many footballers in The Gambia and Africa fined it hard to get such opportunities. I mean the opportunity to play at professional level in many countries and now in Finland.
Amongst all the countries I played in, Finland has been different in the sense that I am fortunate to be in a club that is a serious challenger to the championship or top 4 finished, (European spot).
I consider myself lucky to be in this great club Rops. I am very happy with the management, my team mates and the progress we are making.
Nna Gambia News: What is special about this club as opposed to the other clubs you’ve been to?
Abdou: I must say that in my career, I have been cared for and respected by my club management and team members. What is different here is perhaps the strong belief the coach and technical staff have in me both as an individual and also as a team player.
I also appreciate the team spirit among the player’s which has been the bedrock of our performance over the season.
It is pleasing that I am seriously competing for the league title and enjoying every bit of it.
Hopefully we will stay focused on the big prize and avoid every possible distraction on and off the pitch.
Nna Gambia News: You have played in almost every part of the globe, what in your view makes a professional player?
Abdou: Like any other profession, no one can be successful without discipline. That’s the beginning. This is followed by hard work and determination.
Unless one possesses these qualities and of course a little bit of luck, one cannot be a successful in life. Growing up as a child and an adult, I have seen so many great talents in football wasted due to indiscipline, substance abuse, and unwillingness to follow a lifestyle that will maintain fitness for a long time.
To add to what I already said, let me say there is no shortcut to success, so no rush. Like we usually say in The Gambia, ‘if you rush you miss’. It takes patience and perseverance.
Nna Gambia News: You’ve come back to The Gambia many times when things don’t work for you, do you at any time feel it’s time to hang my boots. If no, why and what was the drive?
Abdou: Football and contracts can sometimes be a complex thing. A lot of things come into play not just your capability as a player. I have suffered the misfortune or fortune (depending on how you look at it).
I sat months without a contract but instead of throwing the towel, I held my head up and thank God, I came out of those rusty days stronger.
I was always driven by the fact that football is my life and I have always felt that I still have a lot to offer .That is why I came back to The Gambia.
While in The Gambia, I endeavored to keep myself fit by playing in the league while leave the rest with my agents tirelessly do their job. But during these times, some local analyze my moves otherwise.
Nna Gambia News: It is understood that your club is a small club with a small budget, how come you going neck to neck with big clubs in Finland? What is the secret behind club?
Abdou: We are ranked 8th in the league in terms of budget. Three month ago no one saw this coming.
Like I said earlier, the technical know-how of the coach and his assistant has been very important. Again the determination of the players and the team spirit has also been a great factor in the success achieved so far.
The Fans and management have equally been great.
Nna Gambia News: You are an important player for the club thus you were doing double session during Ramadan, how did you manage fasting and playing football?
Abdou: Every player in the team is important. It’s like a chain, if one part is broken, the link is lost. So we are all important. It takes all of us be where we are.
But I must thank God that I have been given the chance by the coach and the technical team to feature in every single match. If that makes me an important player, then Alhamdulillah (thank God).
About fasting, it has hardly been an issue for me (we Jammehs’ don’t eat a lot like the Darboes’.) The Darboes’ are afraid of fasting, hahhaha fun.
From when I was playing the annual summer football jamborees, locally called ‘Nawettans’ to this level, I have always made sure that the game does not interfere with my faith. I have been fasting and playing well, in fact very well for that matter. Once the body is used to fasting, it can always adjust itself to any task.
I thank God I have a coach who supports me through the month of fasting and respect my faith.
I didn’t observe any strange reactions from any of my team mates. They showed respect to my belief and practice.
Thank God in all the matches I played during the Ramadan, I gave my best in games.
Nna Gambia News: And now to national team issues, as the captain of the senior national team, how much do you keep in touch with other national team players playing elsewhere in the world?
Abdou: Well it is not easy. I am not in touch with everybody, but I can say I talk to a good number of them. I mean those on the internet. Some of them we speak on the telephone.
Nna Gambia News: What do you make up the Gambia’s draw against Namibia?
Abdou: “Hmhmm….I think the space and timing of the 2 qualifiers is very crucial, our ranking cost us a lot. We will play in September, October and possibly in November.
“I think it’s possible with hard work and dedication, we are the same level with Namibia but Guinea is ahead of us. First we think and concentrate on one game at a time. First is Cameroun, after Cameroun we can switch focus to Namibia game.
“I think right now we players only need to focus only on Cameroun game, the same time technical team or scouting team can do their homework on Namibia.”
Nna Gambia News: A lot of people are expectant especially after you guys picked a point against South Africa, how are you players talking about the next match in September?
Abdou: We are optimistic and we are determined to give The Gambia everything we can and God willing. I hope that translates into success in the qualifiers. That is what will make us happy. Gambians should rest assured that we shall give our best in every game although it not going to easy especially playing against Cameroon
Nna Gambia News: Are you under any type of pressure with all the hype back home in The Gambia?
Abdou: Personally I am not under any pressure, but I am not taking anything for granted. I have been there before. Remember the 2010 qualifiers when we almost made it to the Nation Cup.
I am just a bit worried the expectations. They might put a bit of pressure on the much younger players.
Anyway, we shall all work together to manage the expectations and deliver to the best of our ability, individually and collectively
Nna Gambia News: What advice do you have for the Gambian fans and what will you promise them in this campaign?
Abdou: Let them continue giving us their fullest support. We are fully aware of their dream and we share the same dream. We are optimistic that with continued support, I believe that we shall ‘Insha-Allah’ (God Willing) achieve the dream of flying The Gambia flag higher in the AFCON or even the world cup.
Courtesy of Nna Gambia News