Biri Biri – Gambia’s First Football Hero

biri-biri-sevilleAlhaji Momodou Njie or “Biri-Biri” as he was known throughout football started his career in Gambia playing amateur football for various clubs.

Never dreaming of making it big or in fact knowing of what the European football world involved, he left his native country and was signed by Brian Clough at Derby County.

His dream of making it big in football had barely begun before he returned to his home country, that was until Danish side B 1901 snapped up the winger in 1972. He became the first ever Gambian to play in Europe and quickly impressed for the Danish outfit, his performances saw interest from bigger European clubs grow and it eventually led to Spanish club Sevilla making a move.

Biri Biri - Greatest Gambian FootballerSevilla spotted the Gambian at a training camp in Gambia years prior to his move to Denmark and renewed their interest after his fine performances in the Danish league.

In 1973, “Biri-Biri” signed for Sevilla – A move that would ultimately make him the big star he had longed to be.

“My best moment in my career was when I helped Seville to gain promotion to the Spanish First Division league in my second year with the club,” Biri-Biri told BBC Sport in 2005.

“I was so popular in Seville throughout my five-years spent with them because I delivered very well and I was considered one of their best players.I was the first black player to play for the club.I was a complete footballer since I was skillful, a great goal scorer and very fast on the ball.”

biris-sevillaFor many, “Biri-Biri” is still regarded as one of the best African footballers to grace the European game, he never won a medal in his career but his time with Sevilla will always be remembered.

He was the outsider who was welcomed with open arms and played through his heart, all for the love of football and it is through the ultra group “Biris-Norte” that keeps him at the club forever.

Follow the link to read more about Gambia’s first great professional football player Biri Biri in this excellent article by Oko Drammeh in The Observer.