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Life After the Final Whistle: Alagie Sarr, First Player to Score A Goal in An Afcon Qualifier for The Gambia

Alagie Sarr played for SC Victoria Hamburg in Germany

Endowed with tremendous technique and innate football intelligence, Alagie Sarr became the first Gambian footballer to score a goal in an African Cup of Nations qualifier in 1983. He was the match-winner against Sierra Leone in Freetown. “That was just phenomenal,” he tells The Chronicle. “I was so proud as a Gambian, and I was able to do it thanks to the great team I played with.”

Alagie Sarr started as a goalkeeper before switching to the role of a midfielder. Born and raised in Banjul where his passion for football kicked off, he started competitive football with KG5 Football Club, a popular nawettan team in his home city Banjul as a goalkeeper, while attending Saint Augustine’s Junior Secondary School in Banjul in the mid-70s.

After guiding KG5 to more than two nawettan titles, Sarr moved to Geographs FC where he spent only one season before moving to Water-Side FC in the 2nd Division. “It was a team filled with good players like Alieu Sarr, Joseph “Joes Kalamba” Sambou, and Lie Jobe,” Sarr explains. After just a few seasons with Water-Side, Sarr was promoted to Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) in the first division.

Sarr would later join the national team in 1978 and made his debut against Angola in an invitational tournament hosted in Cape Verde as a goalkeeper. He was more than capable with his feet. His distribution off the floor is usually clean and accurate, allowing his players to spread play quickly across the pitch. “He was a gifted player,” says Sam Manneh one of Alagie’s admirers. “I admire his discipline on and off the pitch, he was always hungry for victory.”

Gambia National Football Team in 1978. Alagie Sarr first from right (standing)

In 1979, he switched from the role between the posts to midfield and went on to blossom into a more complete player in course of time. He played a few games in the midfield for The Gambia national team and played as centre-back for in the latter part of his career.

Alagie Sarr was renowned for his passing and shooting skills. He was a supreme ball-winner and tackler as well. “Whenever I play for The Gambia, I give it all out because I always want to make the fans happy,” said Sarr. “Losing was never in my mind. My generation had disciplined players and always ready to die for their country despite less financial support.”

Sarr’s successes continued. He won the hearts of many fans, and for more than a decade, he maintained a reputation as a dominant figure who commanded respect on the pitch.

Alagie Sarr’s biggest career highlight came in 1984 during an African Cup of Nations qualifier against Ivory Coast at the Independence Stadium, where The Gambia ended up winning 3-2. A solid defender, he was one of the top performers for the Scorpions that day. “It was a very strong Ivorian side with very intelligent forward players, but I was able to contain them at the back and stamped my authority. I will never forget that game, it was tense and enjoyable,” Sarr smiles.

Young Alagie Sarr in Germany

Sarr, now at 55, is regarded as the country’s most successful local coach. He’s CAF B and C coaching license holder. Currently, he is the coach of BK Milan, a 1st division team and also assistant coach of the senior national football team.

Alagie Sarr also played in Germany before his retirement in 1993.

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