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The story of Musa Juwara: Fleeing for the age of 14 in The Gambia and his first Serie A goal at the age of 18

There’s something Arnold Schwarzenegger once said that few people resonate better than Musa Juwara.

“Power does not come from winning,” the Terminator said star. “Your struggle develops your strengths. If you are going through difficulties and decide not to surrender, that is strength. ‘

Pushed into mainstream discourse after his first Serie A goal on Sunday, when Bologna defeated Inter Milan, Juwara’s story is one of a treacherous journey across the Mediterranean, a heartwarming adoption and a bitter legal battle that threatened his chance to play football. in Italy.

Musa Juwara's incredible story is all the talk in Italy after his first Serie A goal on Sunday

Musa Juwara’s incredible story is all the talk in Italy after his first Serie A goal on Sunday

The 18-year-old screamed from a party after hitting the equalizer against Inter Milan

The 18-year-old screamed from a party after hitting the equalizer against Inter Milan

The 18-year-old screamed from a party after hitting the equalizer against Inter Milan

Three weeks ago it was the fourth anniversary of Juwara’s solo journey from his native Gambia to the coast of Sicily.

The journey, which Juwara courageously undertook as a 14-year-old in search of a better life for himself, took the ambitious teenager across the west coast, past Senegal and Western Sahara, around the northern arch of Africa outside Morocco and Tunisia.

As an unaccompanied minor who entered Italy – he was one of an estimated 25,000 that year alone – Juwara’s battle was not yet complete. But for the youngster, he was now in a place full of opportunities.

It was moved to the Potenza region, about two and a half hours south of Naples.

And it was here where Juwara’s fortune would change a little bit, and then suddenly, for the better.

Virtus Avigliano, an amateur team operating out of Avigliano, a nearby town in the province of Potenza, gave Juwara the chance to hit the field again while continuing to pursue his dream of the highest level.

Since Juwara left the house unaccompanied and was still the age of a child, the team’s coach, Vitantonio Summa, acted as the Gambian’s legal guardian. Due to the couple’s close relationship on and off the pitch, Summa and his wife Loredana Bruno eventually became the winger’s nurturing parents.

His form under his new guardian was not surprisingly impressive, and his name soon began to extend beyond the province of Potenza.

Juwara fled from the Gambia with a boat at the age of 14 and arrived in Sicily in search of opportunities

Juwara fled from the Gambia with a boat at the age of 14 and arrived in Sicily in search of opportunities

Juwara fled from the Gambia with a boat at the age of 14 and arrived in Sicily in search of opportunities

He went through an amateur club because his way to his goal in San Siro had no setbacks

He went through an amateur club because his way to his goal in San Siro had no setbacks

He went through an amateur club because his way to his goal in San Siro had no setbacks

Juwara, now 18, never has to look too far from his bio on Instagram to find peace in adversity, more of which would follow after his adoption by his amateur coach.

“Believe in yourself and live everything in the hands of God,” it says. Considering everything Juwara went through to leave the Gambia, it is difficult to keep him from a higher power.

And there would be more adversity, even more hardship, for a bitter legal battle threatened to end his football dream in Italy before it even really started.

The Italian Football Association [FIGC] but the buffers on Juwara’s decision to join ChievoVerona.

The reason FIGC gave was that the federation’s new anti-exploitation rules for immigrants to the country prevented an asset from a young player.

Juwara was reportedly left “depressed” because he did not understand and did not understand the administrative hassle that kept him from joining a club desperate to sign him.

But as Schwarzenegger said, “struggles develop your strengths.” Juwara and his new legal guardians eventually received legal support and were allowed to transfer to Chievo in November 2017.

Success with ChievoVerona came after a bitter legal battle to switch

Success with ChievoVerona came after a bitter legal battle to switch

Success with ChievoVerona came after a bitter legal battle to switch

Sinisa Mihajlovic was impressed with Juwara's development and recently used it

Sinisa Mihajlovic was impressed with Juwara's development and recently used it

Sinisa Mihajlovic was impressed with Juwara’s development and recently used it

After an exhausting journey along the coast of Africa to reach the country and then a battle between lawyers to enable him to bring his talents to the competitions, Juwara was – finally – on his dream to make it like a professional.

Juwara, who can play through the middle or out of wide where he seems most comfortable, scored eight goals in 15 games in his 2017-18 debut season with Chievo.

That form earned him a call-up to the first team and made his debut in the first team on the last day of the 2018-19 season after the club had already stepped down to Serie A relegation.

He came off the bench in a 0-0 draw with Frosinone Calcio.

In the colors of Torino, Juwara really stood out during the prominent youth tournament Torneo di Viareggio in Tuscany in 2019 with three goals in three games and suddenly interest was piqued in a player that no one in Italy knew remotely from three years earlier.

A few years with Cheivo was enough to convince frugal Bologna to make a move to Juwara last summer, estimated at around € 500,000 (£ 452,000).

The plan was to put him in their under-19 side and develop him as one for the future. But as Juwara shows, he seems to thrive when the odds stack up against him.

Juwara (right) plunged into a career in football when he met N'Golo Kante (left)

Juwara (right) plunged into a career in football when he met N'Golo Kante (left)

Juwara (right) plunged into a career in football when he met N’Golo Kante (left)

His form in the youth lineup brought Bologna boss Sinisa Mihajlovic Juwara into the first team lineup from October and the Gambian hasn’t looked back since.

Juwara made his Serie A debut off the bench against AS Roma in February for the shutdown for Covid-19 and went a step further with a significant contribution against Inter.

Thrown by Mihajlovic into the intimidating theater that is the San Siro at 65 minutes instead of Nicola Sansone, Juwara would have had the right to be overwhelmed.

But he struggled not only to freeze on the biggest podium in his formative years, and less than 10 minutes after his introduction, he festively drove off with the tying goal.

That goal, in which Juwara became Bologna’s youngest goalscorer since 2003, gave his side a foothold and Gambian countryman Musa Barrow, who was looking for Juwara for his shirt at the end, made the comeback for a famous win.

“I really want to thank the coach for showing that confidence against Inter,” said Juwara.

Teammate Musa Barrow swapped shirts with Juwara at the end and celebrated on the club's Instagram

Teammate Musa Barrow swapped shirts with Juwara at the end and celebrated on the club's Instagram

It was a huge moment for the entire squad and Barrow was quick to celebrate his teammate's milestone

It was a huge moment for the entire squad and Barrow was quick to celebrate his teammate's milestone

Teammate Musa Barrow swapped shirts with Juwara at the end and celebrated on Instagram

“I am very happy that I scored my first goal, that I want to dedicate to my family and everyone who helped me on my journey.

“The coach deserves credit for this victory. This is a dream for me and a day I will remember for the rest of my life. ‘

Given everything Juwara has gone through, few could give him his moment in the limelight. The journey, as it was four years ago, is just beginning for him.

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