Ebou Sillah has unraveled shocking insight into how much of sacrifices he did for Gambia on national duties.
The 40-year-old winger who retired in 2012 this weekend told of the daunting task he and fellow international teammates encountered which at one point required he ignore over six million dalasis (100,000 euros) just to play for the Scorpions in a Zone Two game.
Capped fifty-five times for the Scorpions, the wide-man’s comment were in angry reaction to comments suggesting his generation of national team players have done nothing for Gambia or were only in for their pockets.
“I live in Belgium. I have paid tickets for many Gambian footballers to come to The Gambia and the GFA or ministry will not refund me,” the erstwhile Anderlecht tricky player said.
Narrating how he, Edrissa Sonko and Seyfo Soley at one point left their teams to field for Gambia in a tournament not recognised by fifa, Ebou said: “I used to play Zone Two which is not even in Fifa’s calendar. If I wanted I wouldn’t have come because it is not in Fifa’s calendar. There is this other day also that I played up to the semi-finals going to the Cup finals for my club in Europe. I received a letter of invitation from Gambia for the Zone Two In Mali. Edi , Seyfo and I were the sole players from the foreign-based contingent who turned up. The following weekend, I was supposed to play final for my club. But I left that. GFA gave us pocket money thousands dalasis for two weeks. In that Cup final my club won the club and they gave each of my teammates 100,000 euros and I had zero because I sacrificed to play for Gambia. The ticket from Mali SN Sabina, I and Edi paid on our own from Dakar to Paris. I never complained about that and people keep asking us what have we done for Gambia? really?”
Citing another scenario, the Bakau-born said he and fellow internationals had to put up with lodging in a hotel with poor facilities in Monrovia.
He dwelled on: “The other time, Gambian players were taken to Liberia at a hotel. The toilets couldn’t flush. We never complained about that. We (Gambian players) also once moved from here to Guinea Bissau on a bus and we couldn’t even have what we could eat. There was also this day, that we were stranded in Dakar. I paid for a bus in dollars to transport us. I was never refunded that. Instead they gave us D1,000. Is that money? We sacrifice leaving millions behind only to come here and collect D1,000 dalasis. “
Now a youth coach for Belgian third division club Sporting Hasselt but on holiday in The Gambia, the former Scorpions’ captain revealed he sustained a wound in Gambia’s game versus Senegal, an abrasion prompting him to go under the knife twice leading to his decision to hang up his boots in 2012.
“My career got ruined in Gambia. Let me say that so you can know today. It happened on the game against Senegal. When I got back home, no one said to me how is your leg. I operated my leg twice and not even the GFA called to see how I was faring. Because of the injury, I couldn’t continue with my football. In the end I had to retire. The game against Senegal. I was on board a flight from Dakar to Brussels with Fadiga. We were talking. He asked me, “my man I know this time Gambia’s match bonuses to players should be impressive”. It turned out Senegalese players were each given 20,000 euros (little over a million Gambian dalasis). You know much Gambians had? D1,000! I never told Fadiga that. Fadiga asked me how much we had, I told him “I will not tell you”.
“Gambian authorities have never given our generation of scorpions even D10,000. People think we have money from the national team but we really do not. We just love our country.”
According to Ebou, he is often embarrassed to reveal to fellow international club teammates in Belgium Gambia’s match bonuses.
“I used to sit with my teammates who are internationals too in their respective countries. When they tell me how much they get as match bonuses from their countries FA, I remain mute. It’s only one occasion that they gave us 100 dollars and that was when we were in Ghana. What is US$100 So many people keep questioning what have we done for Gambia. Let them tell us what they have done for Gambia too so we can hear from their side as well.”