Rome (AFP) – Former African child refugee Ebrima Darboe, who arrived in Italy alone four years ago and now plays top-flight football for Roma, told of his delight Thursday at lining up against his idols Manchester United.
Darboe, now 19, left his native Gambia alone without his family and after passing through the hands of human traffickers and a refugee camp in Libya travelled by boat to reach Sicily in the south of Italy.
After making his debut in Serie A against Sampdoria at the weekend Darboe came off the bench in the Europa League semi-final, second leg against Manchester United after English defender Chris Smalling went off injured after half and hour.
And the former Roma youth player’s solid display helped his team to a 3-2 win on the night.
“I was nervous when I was coming on,” he said after the tie which his team lost 8-5 on aggregate.
“Four or five years ago I was in Africa, watching players on the TV – and today I was out there playing against some of them. So, I was very excited about that.
“I’ve had a pretty unusual time,” he continued.
“It’s true that I had to go through a long journey, that was a bit tough, in order to get here, but since I have been here (in Italy) my life has changed.”
Darboe said that coach Paulo Fonseca had told him before he came on: ‘Look, Ebri, stay calm, do what you can, you are a great player so don’t try and force things’.
“I did what the coach told me. My teammates really helped me, I tried to help them, so I’m pleased.
“We won, yes, but as we all know we didn’t qualify unfortunately – so we are all disappointed about that.”
“I want to thank the coaches, both Paulo Fonseca and (youth team boss) Alberto De Rossi, and indeed all those who have coached me since I’ve been here,” he said.
“I’ve learned so many things I didn’t know before from them, so if I am where I am now it is because of the coach and the staff. I want to thank all of them.”
“I don’t think I’ve done anything yet, I think I still have a long way to go. I try to train as best as I can and do everything I can to help the team.”
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