Jan 18, 2013, 12:21 PM
Former Gambian international forward Assan Jatta, widely known as 'Bierhoff', has made a surprise return to the senior national team football after three years in the wilderness.
The 25-year-old lanky forward was arguably one of the fierce looking hit-men the country can be proud of if he is on his top form but was surplus to requirement when his professional career marked by some spectacular highs and dramatic lows almost came to an end.
He has however returned to active football with Steve Biko Football Club after three-year absence but failed to help the Bakau giant killers recover from what is the club's worst start to the GFA top-tier league campaign as Biko suffered a 2-nil defeat to Gambia Ports Authority at the Serrekunda East Mini-stadium on Saturday.
Jatta played a minor role in Biko's defeat but the former SK Lierse embattled striker was able to convince the Gambia Football Association that he is still a player to watch, which earned him an invitation to the Gambia national team that has since on Monday begun a preparatory programme for the West Africa Football Union championship, (WAFU) under the tutelage of Lamin Sarr at the Brikama Box Bar Mini-stadium.
Jatta, who is now based in Belgium, started playing serious football with Vietnam Border, a club regarded by many as one of the most successful Nawettan clubs in Bakau few years ago. While at the club, he won a Super Cup trophy when his long-range free kick helped Border overcome close neighbours Saul Samba in the final played at the Bakau Mini-stadium.
Jatta, the youngest player in the 2006 Vietnam Border squad, was able to prove himself beyond reasonable doubts due to his goal-scoring magic, which made him one of the most popular players not only in Bakau but also throughout the country during a tremendous campaign for the Border side.
As a result of his creativity and great eye for goal, he was named after a German legend Oliver Bierhoff, who was once regarded as one of the best strikers in world football.
Following a successful stint with Vietnam Border, Bierhoff made a quick move to The Gambia national U-17 squad and has since formed a great partnership with former team-mate and close ally Arthur Gomez during their time together.
He was invited to the Bakau Zonal team in 1999 when he helped Bakau clinch the zonal-cup championships that year with a narrow 1-0 win over Serrekunda East at East-Park.
Shortly after winning the zonal trophy, Assan was invited to join the Bakau giant killers Steve Biko FC. He made only one appearance for Biko in his first full season against Interior when his sublime Volley goal help Biko edged pass Interior 3-2 at the Serrekunda East Mini-stadium.
Bierhoff went on to establish himself as the club's all time leading goal scorer following his hammering moments in 2001, 2002 and 2003 seasons.
Owing to his wonderful goal-scoring ability, Assan underwent a one-month trial with Belgian first division side Luckeren, under the management of the senior national team coach, Paul Put.
He was unfortunate after failing to sign for Luckeren and instead returned home to help Biko escape relegation to the second division of the same year.
He finally put pen to paper on a 2-year professional contract with another Belgian first division club SK Lierse alongside his comrade Mustapha (Toubabo) Jarju in 2006.
But Jatta was released by Lierse SK at the end of his two-year spell in the summer of 2008 when the Belgian outfit failed to extend the contract of former Steve Biko inspirational captain while his compatriot Mustapha Jarju went ahead to establish himself as a regular starter in the SK Lierse team.
Thus he has made no secret of his ambition to return to professional football once again.
Assan’s most outstanding performance came during his time with the senior national team scoring many important goals for The Gambia, including a superb second half strike in the Scorpions 2-1 victory over Guinea in Banjul, after coming from the bench to score the Gambia’s winner during the African Nation's Cup qualifiers few years ago.