Amadou Diop, Captain of the Senegalese National Football Team in 1985, has described Gambian legend Momodou “Biri Biri” Njie as one of Africa’s most complete footballers of all time.
Arguably Gambia’s most famous footballer and physically powerful with supreme skills, Njie had an insatiable competitive streak. “Biri Biri is without a shadow of a doubt, one of the legendary African players, and he was an innovative and imaginative attacker who always excelled with the ball,” Diop tells The Chronicle in Dakar.
Diop had played against Biri in many continental tournaments including the 1985 Amilcar Cabral Zone II at the Independence Stadium in Bakau, a game The Gambia lost 1-0. “That was a very tough game,” Diop recalls. ”Prior to that match me and my teammates had a meeting on how to control Biri in the field. It was never easy to stop Biri with the ball, not at all.”
“Biri Biri could shoot with both legs. He was a good dribbler and full of tricks, and above all, he also was a charismatic man. No wonder he was a crowd favorite,” Diop said.
Before his time in Europe, Biri Biri played for Black Diamonds, Phantoms and Augustians in The Gambia, as well as Mighty Blackpool of Sierra Leone. He was spotted by a Danish club during a training camp in The Gambia in 1972. He left them in 1973 for Spanish team Sevilla FC. He was the first black player to play for Sevilla, and was considered one of their best players. Biri Biri returned to Denmark to play for Herfølge Boldklub in 1980, and in 1981 he signed with Wallidan F.C. back in The Gambia, for whom he played until retirement in 1987.
In 1963, Biri became the youngest player to ever play for The Gambia in what today is still remembered as the last time The Gambia beat Senegal by three goals to two with all three goals emanating from the football prodigy, Biri Biri. ‘’We the Senegalese have so much love and admiration for Biri, he was a joy to watch. He has not only made Gambians proud, but the entire African continent. He was a big man in every sense on the field.”