Legendary Gambian footballer to be laid to rest today

Jul 22, 2020, 10:09 AM | Article By: Cherno Omar Bobb

Legendary Gambian footballer Alhaji Momodou Njie alias Biri Biri will be laid to rest today at Old Jeshwang Cemetery.

The hearse will be escorted from the mortuary to Arch 22 in Banjul by footballers dressed in team jerseys.

In showing their last respects to the football legend, tribute would be given by his brother Bekai Njie, his childhood friend Mr. Pa Jeng, his former team mate and coach Hon. Mass Axi Gai, President of Wallidan football club Adama Hala Samba, president Gambia Football Federation, the lord mayoress of Banjul, Youths and Sports Minister and his Excellency Mr. Adama Barrow, President of The Republic of The Gambia.

The legendary Gambian footballer passed away on Sunday in Dakar, Senegal after losing a battle with a long illness.

Biri Biri was indeed one of the greatest football players The Gambia had ever produced. Biri, the son of Uncle Alhajie Ngooze was born at Perseverance Street Banjul in 1948.

He attended the Crab Island Junior Secondary School where his talents were first discovered in the Inter-School Soccer competitions when Biri dominated Junior Soccer and brought many honours to his school. Mr. Njie was launched into National Soccer team as a young player for the then Black Star Football Club, a team he only played one match for and because of his incredible dribbling talents and an acute sense of space and goal making, Biri was invited to join the Black Diamonds, the then National Champions.

He played for Diamonds until 1963 when he was virtually bought by the White Phantoms where he stayed until 1964. Biri joined Arrance in 1961, a young team filled with young talents which suited Biri’s style of play. One would recall the combination between the late Yusu Samba (Pele) and Biri in Arrance hey days.

After winning the championship for Arrance in 1965, he was again invited to join the famous Augustinians Football Club where he stayed for 5 years. Biri’s dynamic leadership of Augustinians attack and midfield enabled this Club to dominate soccer throughout this period.

In 1970, Biri left The Gambia to join Derby County, a first division team in UK. He returned to The Gambia the same year  to join Wallidan; a team he actually showed a lot of love for and attachment to. In 1972, Biri went to Denmark to play for B1901, a first division team in that country.

In 1973 he was transferred to that famous Spanish team Sevilla, a team that also has fielded such famous players like Diego Maradona. Alhaji Biri Njie was recently honoured by his team Sevilla as one of the greatest players in the world and on that occasion Diego Maradona himself took the privilege to have his picture taken with the greatest player that has ever played for Sevilla.

After a five year sojourn in Spain, Biri went to Belgium to play for Anderlect, a first division team. In 1980 Biri returned to Denmark to play for Herfolge. In 1981 he returned home to continue his illustrous career in soccer. Biri has always assisted National Coaches and Club Teams and has himself led the National Squad on many occasions.

Biri played for the National Team from 1963 to 1987, the year he retired, a record in the history of soccer in this country. Biri Biri is an inspiration to all Gambians in particular to the young generation of rising stars.

While he was playing in Europe, whenever The Gambia was playing an international game, he would pay for his ticket and never got a refund from the state. He was patriotic and contributed a great deal towards African football.