Gambia might not be recognised globally in football, however, the nation has had some of its own passing through at elite European clubs like the illustrious Manchester United of England.
Gambia News takes a look at these players and how they ended up.
One of the finest strikers of his generation in the Gambia, Arthur Gomez was a household. A resident of Bundung, the goal-getter transitioned from nawettan team London United to local division one club Hawks FC. Owing to his talent, he would become a Gambia international at a young age. Gomez was recommended to United under the great coach Fergie by Swedish club Goteburg who, it occurred, have been tracking the ace for a long time. Convinced he was one for the future, The Red Devils wasted no time to sign him to a developmental contract and had him shipped to Royal Antwerp of the Belgian First Division for consistent game time.
So What Happened to Arthur ?
Arthur’s stay in Antwerp wasn’t a transfer one would anticipate in today’s modern game – a four-year loan.
All the same, he registered considerable success there, plundering twelve goals in forty-four matches before he switched to Dessel Sport to continue his progression. He stayed the entire of the 2005 and 2006 without playing for the side with niggling injuries to contend with.
Quick recuperation the following term saw him try to re-launch his fading career. However, Alex Ferguson barely considered him of significance to his United first team that has been solidly boosted by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. There was Luis Saha too, a development further alienating Arthur – pride of a nation but reduced to an outcast hence his fringe player status and the side’s subsequently refusal to offer him renewed terms at elapse of his deal.
Growing disillusioned over his slimming chances of ever getting a full club career, he left United unable to live up to his initially promising talent to chance on the Chinese second division. He would rack up eight goals there in twenty-five outings in two years. Arthur returned to the UK with fourth division Newport County on a trial contract in 2011 but the South Wales outfit opted against re-signing him to a longer deal.
Despite his talent, Arthur will be remembered as one of those sort of players who promised much and yet delivered little. The moment that sent his international career to the football graveyard was his missed sitter in Gambia’s humiliating lost to Senegal in 2003 in what was an Africa Cup of Nation qualifying match.
Gambia were trailing 3-0 but looked firm on a comeback. Arthur could have reduced the deficit. He was put through on goal by Aziz Corr Nyang down the right. The Manchester United ace dribbled the entire Senegalese defence including the no nonsense Ferdinard Coly before coaxing out Tony Silva then boom! Unbelievably, he rattled his effort on the post and buried his head in his hands in utter disbelief. The remnants of traveling Gambian fans at the stadium turned their fury on Gomez amid severe criticisms of the youngster in the game’s aftermath. That sealed it for Arthur as he was never again called for national team duties. The last time Gambia News heard of this London Corner sensation was at Romanian premier league club UE Engordany in 2011.
Unlike Arthur, King is Norwegian-born to a Gambian father. Joshua would be the next Gambian at the Manchester club three years after Arthur departed the then premiership side. Like Gomez, King is a striker and was poached from Valarenga of Norway despite interest from Chelsea and other sides. Far from the little feats achieved by his compatriot, Joshua transitioned well in United’s reserves and was loaned to Preston, Borussia Monglabach Hull City, Blackburn Rovers and now AFC Bournemouth where he signed a permanent deal.
Joshua has been to The Gambia few times but turned down the Scorpions twice at U-20 level prior to eventually fully switching his international allegiance to Norway who he stars for till now. United wanted to snatch him but baulked at paying Bournemouth’s 42 million pounds valuation of the attacker.
Similar to Joshua, Janko was born abroad to a Gambian father but in him there remain some huge percent of hope he may end up playing for Gambia internationally.
He has been visited recently by Gambia’s FA boss and coach and was invited for the Gabon tie before the match’s cancellation.
However, Switzerland calling him could change the dynamics and perhaps this is reason for his decision to move to FC Young Boys where he has impressed fully. He was at Manchester United and even starred for the former English Premier League champions in Cup competitions but never fully cut it in the first team. He was loaned to Bolton, Celtic, Barnsley before leaving for St Etienne of the French Ligue One and Porto who owns his rights and loaned him to current outfit Young Boys.