One of his generation’s most prominent footballers and fiercest attackers in the country, Ebrima Manneh’s love for football started from Manneh Kunda, his little home village in Basse in the Upper River Region.
As a youngster, he’d play with his friends on the dusty, rocky streets of Basse where his hunger and desire for success started. They’d play barefoot on sandy paths and often use small rocks for goal posts.
“In those days we were not able to organize ourselves to participate in the town’s football games,” he tells The Chronicle. “We’d just wait for nawettan seasons in Mansajang Kunda to go and watch teams play until my brother came from Kombo to form a team called Koteh Jombulu, and that’s when we started playing nawettan football in Basse.”
In 1985, Manneh left the village to pursue high school education at Nusrat High School in Serekunda where he became a key player for the school’s football team. “At that time, we had a lot of talented players and the inter-high schools competition was just fantastic. St. Augustine’s had Joe Tennis, Star Janneh and other good players. Those days were so great.”
Manneh joined Young Hawks in 1986 after being spotted by Ousainou Njie. He became an instant success for the club and broke into the first team. He also had stints with Freezens, Blue Diamond and then AC Milan in Banjul. “We were the best ever team that had played in Banjul nawettan. AC Milan was a team filled with stars like Saul Samba, Kissima Jorbateh, the late Pa Mundaw and Louise Top.
After an impressive season, Manneh made it to the national squad where he became a captain. In many ways, he quickly became a complete package for the Scorpions thanks to his tremendous all-round technique and unerring finish on the field. As a striker, he was powerful and he had pace.
“Playing for The Gambia was the best thing for me. I enjoyed every moment with the team. We had great players like Peter Gassama, Tamsir Manneh, Lamin Owens and Moses Sarr, and we all had the country at heart when we played.”
Manneh’s biggest highlights include winning the first league cup for Hawks and winning a nawettan trophy for his village. “Those moments were monumental in my career. I will forever cherish them,” he recalls.
After retirement, Manneh worked at the Gambia Football Federation as a technical director. He is the first Gambian male FIFA course instructor. Currently, he works at Qcity as sports manager.
Great job, more on rural Gambia reporting!
Brilliant article @Omar