Five and a half years ago, Ebrima Darboe set out for Europe. With the Roma he now kicks none other than Jose Mourinho.
Suddenly, Ebrima Darboe’s football career went very quickly: In May 2021, the 20-year-old played for the first time in Serie A for Roma. He was allowed to play seven minutes in the 2-0 defeat against Sampdoria. The continuation of an all too impressive career that has picked up speed again since then.
Only four days later there was an even bigger highlight for the young man from Gambia, when he was substituted on after half an hour in the Europa League semi-final against Manchester United – at the age of 19. It was the culmination of the unusual career of a teenager who went to great lengths for his dream of living as a footballer.
Because if you had to get to the heart of your career so far, the heading “From the refugee boat to the Europa League semifinals” would be appropriate. This wording is shortened, however, because between the arrival of Darboe in Italy at the age of 14 as, as it is so soberly called in the official language, ‘unaccompanied minor’ and his one against United loves there is still a new thing in a new family, hope , the exercise, and the many small advances that Darboe has made in the past five and a half years.
Ebrima Darboe: The dream of a professional footballer
Ebrima Darboe already wanted to become a professional footballer in Gambia. “I had this dream when I was a little boy,” Sky Sport Italia manager. “But it’s hard to play football at the top level in Africa,” he added.
The decision matured in him to leave his homeland at an early age in order to pursue his dream in Europe and at the same time to be able to take care of his family. “It was not easy to get a visa for me, which my parents tried too. That’s why I had no other choice and just ran off with two friends,” said Darboe, who was born in Bakoteh.
In a video that he uploaded to his Facebook profile at the end of 2020, he finally spoke plainly about his early days: “Many of us left and never arrived.”
In addition, the now 20-year-old lost his father at an early age and grew up with little prospect. Only the game with the ball and many dreams stand by his side at the beginning.
Ebrima Darboe made her Serie A debut under Jose Mourinho’s predecessor Paulo Fonseca.
Roma talent Darboe on career: “it was tough”
First Darboe landed in Libya, where he was accommodated in a refugee shelter and had a tough time. Fleeing from hunger and war, he went from there by boat to Italian, where he arrived at the age of 14 and weighed only 50 kilograms – despite being 1.80 meters tall. After spending some time in a refugee camp and with the support of a social worker, a family was found in Rieti, northeast of Rome, who took in the teenager. “I know that they are all watching today,” said Darboe proudly of the result so far after the aforementioned United duel.
At the same time, the moment dies for him to pause for a moment and look back on his rocky path from Gambia to the EL semifinals. “It was tough. But thank God and thank Italian I came into a foster family,” he said.
Mourinho’s sayings: “Bodö on MotoGP bike, we on bike”
Jose Mourinho embarrassed himself to the bone with the Roma in the Conference League. The Italian documents at the Norwegian club Bodo / Glimt with 1: 6. Mou went hard with his B-Elf.
“It seemed like Solbakken was riding a MotoGP bike while our players were on a bike.
And the Portuguese added sarcastically: “The only good thing is that I will no longer be asked why I always use the players. Such a defeat leaves wounds.”
In a virtual question and answer session “Game on with Mourinho”, organized by the Tottenham sponsor AIA, he was asked how he dealt with criticism of himself and compared it with NASA.
“Nobody discusses rocket science with the people at NASA. But they think they can discuss football with one of the most important coaches in history. That’s the beauty of football. I accepted that.”
After Liverpool’s 2-1 win against Tottenham, Jose Mourinho complained about Jürgen Klopp’s behavior. “If I act like him, I’ll definitely be kicked out,” said Mou.
Mourinho continued: “For some reason, different rules apply to me. The referees just let him get away with anything.”
As a TV expert on the Premier League title candidates: “Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool and Man City’s B-Team.”
“Mr Bonucci and Mr Chiellini could both be teaching how to play as a center-back at Harvard University. Fantastic, absolutely fantastic.”
“His performance was good, but only because he played on my side. I thought for him, I made his decision. I made every single decision for him.” Mou over United defender Luke Shaw.
He holds up three fingers: “Do you know what that is? It’s 3-0, but it also means three championship titles. I’ve won more than the other 19 coaches put together. Show respect too, man!” (after the 3-0 win against Tottenham in August 2018)
“Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m European champion and I think I’m special.” (when presented in Chelsea, the myth is born)
“We have top players and, if I’m arrogant, sorry, we have a top coach.”
“I didn’t say I was the best. I just don’t know anyone better.”
“If I had wanted an easy job, I would have stayed in Portugal – beautiful blue chairs, the Champions League trophy, God and right behind God, me.”
“Pressure? What kind of pressure? Pressure is when gun people work themselves stupidly and stupidly to support their families. There is no pressure in football.”
“If I get fired here in the next few months, I’ll be a millionaire and I’ll take over another club in a few months.” (about a possible expulsion from Chelsea – a settlement of 30 million pounds was allegedly in the room)
“If I said what I think of the referee, my career would be over in an instant.” (about the referee Wolfgang Stark after a Champions League defeat against Barcelona)
“If I’m hated in Barcelona, that’s their problem and not mine. Fear is a word that doesn’t exist in my football vocabulary.”
“The second is always the first of the last. It doesn’t matter if you’re ten points behind or have scored 500 goals.”
“He plays because I have no one else. If you don’t have a dog to hunt, you have to bring a cat with you.” (About Karim Benzema)
“The difference between me and Pellegrini is that if Real kick me out, I won’t coach Malaga FC.”
“It is a fact that the referee comes from a country where there is no football.” (after a defeat with Chelsea, the referee came from Luxembourg)
“After leading FC Porto to the Champions League victory, I left. Del Neri came and was fired after 15 days.”
“Social life with the team is zero. Khedira lives with Özil and Özil with Khedira. Their integration is not easy, although we are a young, friendly and pleasant group.”
“As an Inter coach I feel like Robin Hood. But Jesus Christ was not loved by everyone either. What hope remains for me?”
“God sure thinks I’m a horny guy, that’s why he gave me so much.”
“My wife doesn’t like when I’m at home. That’s why my teams spend the night before home games in the hotel.”
“I don’t want a player who is a perfect man and has a fantastic character. That’s the type I want for my daughter as a man.”
“If my life was to be made into a movie, George Clooney would be the ideal cast. He’s a fantastic actor and my wife thinks he’s perfect.”
“I’m the ninth most influential person in the world, ahead of Obama. What place is my wife? She should be at least eighth. I’m not the boss at home.”
“My coaching career cannot be compared to Frank Rijkaard’s. He won nothing, I won a lot.”
“Barcelona are a big club, but in 200 years of history they have only won one European cup. I’ve only been training for a few years and I’ve won just as much.”
“Young players are a bit like melons. You can only be 100 percent sure whether the melon is good if you open them and try them.”
In terms of sport, the journey continued with an amateur team in Rieti, where he ran into Miriam Peruzzi, a well-known player’s agent with a line to Roma. “When I saw Ebrima for the first time, it was immediately clear to me that he had excellent tactical skills,” Peruzzi told Calciomercato.com. Darboe finally took his chance through her.
Thanks to his footballing qualities, he quickly found his way around the ‘Young Rieti’ football school and shone in the trial training with the Roma. Darboe convinced and subsequently ran for the Giallorossi youth teams.
The then Roma coach Paulo Fonseca also quickly recognized the talent of the boy from Gambia. “It’s rare to find a boy who is so confident and calm on the ball,” said Fonseca. He finally helped Darboe make his professional debut …
Roma talent Darboe soon to be an important piece of the puzzle for Mourinho?
For the defensive midfielder who is a strong runner, the first appearances at the highest level should of course only be the beginning. Starting this season, starting coach Jose Mourinho has been on the sidelines for Roma – which is sure to make another dream come true for Ebrima Darboe.
So far, the youngster has only played sporadic minutes under The Special One. Lorenzo Pellegrini, Bryan Cristante and Jordan Veretout form the trio, which is placed in the center of the midfield.
But Mourinho has long since emphasized that the future belongs to Darboe. The former refugee from Gambia is tied to the Romans until 2023 and has long since attracted the looks of other clubs – including Mous’s ex-club Tottenham.
“If he stays, it is because he could have a chance under Mourinho,” said his agent Peruzzi recently: “Otherwise he will leave the club and Italy.”