Erstwhile Samger and Gambia national under 17 and U20 left wing back, Lamin Sarjo Samateh recounts the ‘mistake’ which led to a premature ending of his promising career. He told the chronicle that his career was ruined by wrong advice and his lack of patience playing in the country. He announced his retirement from active football at the age of 25 after his fall from grace to grass.
Samateh had a promising footballing career and had won the sports Journalist Association of The Gambia home-based players ‘player of the year” award in 2009 and 2010. His speed and skills in the left side of Samger wing was a nightmare for opposition teams. As a left full back, Lamin Sarjo Samateh won the Gambia Football Federation First Division league “golden boot” with 11 goals in 2010.
After an impressive six year stint with the academy boys, Samateh went for trial to UCAM Murcia, a Second division team in Spain in search of luck for a professional career in Europe.
Unfortunately, the Fajara born star failed to convince the UCAM Murcia technical side which warranted him to remain in the European country playing for a youth team.
“This was where it all started”, he tells The Chronicle.
“I could have come back to The Gambia and continue doing what I was doing after my unsuccessful trial. I was doing well in The Gambia but bad advice from some people led to my down fall”, he said.
After his not-successful trial with UCAM Murcia, Samateh continue searching for a team and went on playing for a youth team in Spanish second tie of football before moving to play in the lower leagues in Finland and later returned to Spain to play for FC Montañesa.
Originally from Kiang, Samateh’s lack of patience to wait for a better contract while playing for Samger was another reason for his fall from grace to grass. Samateh said that there was limited opportunities for Gambian players by then to get good contracts outside.
“Lack of opportunity when I was at my peak and then I was in a haste to go abroad which I think was another reason. I should have a little bit patient in Gambia to have good contacts after my trial was not successful. Maybe, I could have another chance to go for another trial, “he recounts.
Samateh, at the age of 25, announced his retirement from football when he got employment to work at Barcelona airport. Playing Amateur football with little financial gain, Samateh decided to end his time with FC Montañesa and work full time at the airport. His dream of making it to the top in football eluded him, so he had seek employment for a better paid job than what he was earning in football.
“I can’t depend on an amateur league team for money. To earn money here, you have to get employment elsewhere. I need to build my future after football, so I decided to take the job and stopped playing because the work has more money than what the club wanted to pay me.”
Lamin Sarjo Samateh represented The Gambia under 17 in the 2009 FIFA under 17 world cup in Nigeria. The Gambia made it to the competition after clinching the African U17 trophy in Algeria. He also played for The Gambia National Under 20 side.
Muhammed Lamin Drammeh is a freelance journalist working with The Chronicle. He’s studying political science and English language at the University of The Gambia.