In two years he has gone from playing on dirt fields to become the owner of the Real Valladolid. Mohammed Salisu (Accra, Ghana, 20 years old) left everything for the football and came to a new country, without knowing neither the equipment, nor the language, nor, above all, the Spanish game. The cold climate of the city of Castilla and Leon did not affect their ability to adapt to this challenge. The defending ghanaian has grown tactically to impress those who expected its success. On Sunday he managed to score his first goal in LaLiga against Eibar (2-0) and helped to leave the entrance to the Pucela to zero. Only Athletic (5), Athletic (7) have conceded less goals than the people from valladolid (9) in the first 10 days.
The footballer was discovered by Fran Brown, his coach in Accra, who left Spain to settle in Africa and to become an exporter of talent. There he founded the African Talent Football Academy (ATFA) and offered to those young players the support and infrastructure to dream of a career in european football. Among those promises, Salisu said: “I thought it was very elegant, and in addition was left-handed, which is very difficult in Africa. The technical level was very high and did not play long, as long as they used to do there but tried to play short,” says Brown.
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The first hurdle was in understanding the type of game that Salisu was facing. I did not know then Valladolid, who was in the Second Division, or the Spanish game, very different from the ghanaian, as the defense explained: “In Ghana we play more like in England but in Spain they play the tiki taka, the good football. In Ghana, we hit and we run, we hit and we go and we play aggressive.”
however, to adapt to the play schemes and to the new life that awaited him there has never been a real problem for him, as Víctor Fernández, the second-leading scorer in the history of the Valladolid LaLiga, who coached him in the Youth of the Pucela: “Fran told me that it was a central level and that I counseled. I said that I was going to bring a week or two and that if I liked it I kept it in. I said to Alberto Marcos [the coordinator of the quarry, another reference in the Pucela] that I had to sign already. It could be seen that tactically we were missing a lot of things but I understood easy and very fast, despite the language barrier. Nothing more to get, with two workouts of mine, I saw marked differences. The physicist that was also a hit inside and outside were amazing. All that is going on I figured was going to happen”.
Ten weeks later, Salisu was the holder on the Promises, the affiliate team of the Second Division b. He played 39 games and scored an. By that time he trained with the first team but the opportunity presented itself when the Valladolid sold to Fernando Calero at Espanyol and was left with the need to fill that hole in the defense. Fixed it with the young talent of the quarry. The ghanaian has appeared in all games this season. Only missed a few minutes against Espanyol by a muscle spasm of the that was recovered in a hurry to be measured to Morata and Diego Costa in the tie against Atletico on the 6th of October (0-0). After this game, LaLiga posted on Twitter: “a star is born”.
A star is born at the back for @realvalladolidE. ???
?? Mohammed Salisu ??#RealValladolidAtleti pic.twitter.com/uMoi6cJbpy
— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) October 6, 2019
Your partner and mentor in the field is Kiko Olivas, who, with 11 years more than him, tries to transmit the secrets of the trade. Olives, as well as Fernández and Brown, match on the aspect that Salisu should improve: “I Could improve tactically. Still missing some things but that is normal. You have to take experience and know, above all, what is the best move in every moment. Even so, it is making some incredible games and has pretty controlled,” explains the center of Valladolid. The excess of momentum led him to commit the foul that caused the penalty against Villarreal.
The african is a boy who is very shy and introverted. Still does not handle very well the Spanish and in his free time he prefers to stay at home because he likes to “watch movies” and “recover energy”, he says in English. When asked about his inspiration, has no doubts: “My idol is Umtiti because I like how it plays and in Ghana, my friends used to call me as well. It is very good with and without the ball.”
Salisu has been the most important success of the ATFA. Other talents are coming from Ghana with the hope of achieving your level. Although it is a long journey, in case you follow as well Brown has it clear: “I Think it’s going to be one of the best midfielders of african football and if all goes well I could play in one of the 10 best teams in the world”.
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