Saturday, October 31, 2020

From an Isolated Player to a Regular –The Rapid Rebirth of Pa Modou Jagne

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By Sulayman Bah

A murky cloud hovered over a once bright future. There was a niggling back injury to add up to an already compounding situation.

The club he once turned out for and whose fans he is a revered personality to, doubted he could deliver again.

To be sandwiched by these complexities is certainly no fun. Above it all, he faced isolation with his employer appearing no longer ardent on his services as they allowed his contract to rundown.

This was the scenario of Pa Modou Jagne at Swiss Super League outfit FC Zurich in July. Considering he was aging and, in their perception, passed his peak, the team had wanted to replace him with a younger blood.

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The two years the Gambia international had spent there having from crossed the divide from FC Sion winning the Swiss Cup in the process, are valuable moments the club board never wanted to sour.

So, they allowed the former Gambia Ports Authority midfielder exhaust his deal which later elapsed this past July. He returned to Gambia armed with ambition of re-launching his career that months back seemed to have stalled.

Jagne worked up sweat in the gym relentlessly and, with proper coordination and strict training regime, conquered his back injury woe.

Throughout his time, he has struggled it out all alone.

Looking slim and fit, three months on to be exact, September this year, his former club president Ancillo Canepa barged in on him during one of his sessions under rehabilitation.
They exchanged pleasantries and the morning after, Canepa deputy’s number popped up on Pa Modou’s phone. It coincided Zurich’s coach had wanted a full-back – a void they wanted filled.

For a start, the Scorpion’s fitness levels was examined in a game with Zurich’s U21s.The gaffer liked what he saw and immediately re-acquired the left-sided player’s services on a short term contract with an option of a renewal at elapse of the agreement.

‘It was not that we did not want him (Pa Modou) in the summer (when we let him leave initially), but if you have a player, you have to be sure of his state of health,’ Zurich sports director Thomas Bickel says.

‘When I got back to the players’ dressing room, even the players who did not even know me personally were happy. They must have heard of me,’ the 30-year-old Gambian said this week.

Dubbed fondly as Nda by locals in Gambia, Pa Modou’s career could have taken a different trajectory had he jumped on a scholarship to study in the US in 2005 sorted out for him by an uncle.

He was then with Gambia’s U17s who were preparing to leave for Peru where the FIFA youth World Cup was to be staged.

Swiss club FC Wil in the second division had wanted to sign him but needed to wait till he came of age two years later in 2008.

Being a youngster, the outfit placed him under the watch of a couple not far from the stadium to ensure his regular attendance of training sessions upon landing his signature.
Here, he transitioned from a striker to a midfielder and lastly to the role he now favours.
St Gallen would snatched his services later culminating into spells at Sion and at Zurich.
It’s twelve years from the time he turned professional grabbing two titles including appearances in the Europa League where they battled the calibre of Liverpool.

Tottenham Hotspur had made discreet enquires about his availability in the transfer window seasons ago but baulked at paying the one million euro asking price.

He now no longer makes priority list of the English Premier League side this minute and probably never will but for a personal feat, he has managed a rebirth of his career in just three months.

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