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From an Injury-plagued Footballer to Africa’s Highest Scorer in Albania –Ali Sowe’s Rise from the Doldrums

A look at Gambian striker Ali Sowe’s rise from an injury prone player to a golden boot winner.

He was but a forlorn figure before the start of last season. Injuries, mostly recurrent, limited both his playtime minutes and in the long run his progress. Gloom hovered as one of Gambia’s hottest prospects teetered on the brink. His routine in those moments became one of a circle of frustration. Two weeks in the pitch another two on the treatment table.

Parent club Chievo Verona, in the Italian Serie A, loaned him to Pescara then in the second division. His development, it was hoped, would be tailor-made there in the 2014/15 campaign. However, Ali Sowe ended up making a mere eight appearances with only three of those being from the starting lineup.

Chievo cut short his initial season-long deal to Latina –another second tier outfit. Similar occurrences followed, only that the dynamics in terms of playing minutes changed a bit –thirteen cameos with eight of them from the start.

As per contractual obligations, he returned to Verona at expiry of his loan stint, a disenchanted man.

The subsequent league term brought with it spectre of worries as another pattern of loans to Modena and then to third tier outfits Lecce, Prato and finally Vibonese ensued, bringing total of clubs he had played for to six in under four years.

It was at Vibonese his once sapped confidence took a turn for the better in 2016. That year, he recorded eighteen (18) straight starts for the first time and scored six goals – a career high and for a striker.

ali-sowe2If any lesson comes out of his troubled past with injuries, it will be his ‘never say die’ attitude in the wake of a string of misfortunes.

Though his latest achievements were registered in the third tier, Chievo endeavored to capitalize on his newfound tenacity to arrange the 24-year-old another loan contract this time to southeastern Europe. Albania soon became his next destination with Super League giants Skenderbeu Korce, the club to benefit from his services.

Albania’s championship presented a varying flavor but having endured and survived the herculean nature of Italian football, Sowe had little qualms in adapting to the Southeastern European nation’s brand of soccer.

He glided into Skenderbeu’s setup almost with relative ease but with an unfamiliar challenge to rise to – the Europa League.

Prior to this, the farthest Ali had been to was featuring in the Serie A which ended in just two starts on a combined twenty two (22) minutes.

So, the story of the little known Gambian jumping from Italian third tier football to the Europa League became mantra for the press.

Unfazed, he rose to the billing, netting thrice in the Europa- first against Young Boys then Dynamo Kyiv and then in the win against Besiktas.

The Snow Wolves later crashed out of the European competition. However, the African continued, replicating his goals in the domestic Super League, clutching his first career hat-trick against bottom-placed Lushnja.

ali-sowe3In a campaign peppered with goals, Sowe came out on top, securing, in the process, a total of three titles –the league gong, Cup medal and golden boot.

His general statistics of 21 goals in the league explains, in glowing details, how far this once injury prone footballer morphed into a maverick goal scorer.

Subject of rafts of interest

The Gambia international was shipped out on loan to aid his progress –a project now completed. It’s being anticipated that he will return to Chievo to claim a place in the team when the Serie A resumes. That may not likely happen with the former Gamtel FC man attracting lot of interest in Turkey’s Super Lig.

Fifth-placed Trabzonspor are mulling, making an audacious charge for a Europa or Champions League spot and want their attack bolstered in an effort to realise their dream. Up on their priority list of buys is Ali Sowe. Chances of any move being sanctioned hinge on how relevant Sowe is to Verona gaffer’s plans.

The Scorpion is currently pegged at £630,000 in the transfer market, a sum Trabzonspor won’t baulk at paying if the in-demand goal-getter is at all up for sale.

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