His story went around the world when he was thrown into the fray in Serie A by AS Romacoach Fonseca. Despite his young age, his talent did the rest. It is that Ebrima Darboe deserves to be told. And he should play the CAN 2021 in Cameroon from January 9.
The young man left his city, his friends, his parents at the age of 14 in search of a better life. He says he left difficult living conditions, where famine was raging in order to try to ensure a better future for his loved ones. If this story is close to that of thousands of children in Africa, it is because it had a much happier ending. He headed for Libya, before boarding a boat to Europe. He will spend six months at sea and will run aground in Italy.
His story is touching
This country has welcomed him. At fourteen, he was able to benefit from the help of a social worker. Also, he was protected within the framework of the System for the Protection of Refugees and Asylum Seekers project.
It was installed in the small town of Rieti, in central Italy. This is how he will train regularly in the club of the city. His indisputable talent was noticed by Roma recruiters. They offered the teenager a try where he impressed the spectators with his calm and talent. Darboe made his debut in the youth team in 2019, and has become a permanent part of their team.
The Gambian has also been named in Roma's senior squad to face Milan in October 2019. However, he will not play and had to wait a long time before he had a chance. That moment came five minutes from the end in Roma's 2-0 defeat to Sampdoria on May 2. He realized an unthinkable dream.
This experience was repeated on May 6, 2021, when an injury to Chris Smalling in the first half allowed Paulo Fonseca to launch Darboe into the battle against Manchester United in the semi-finals of the Europa League at the Stadio Olimpico.
Darboe was worthy during the hour he played in the 3-2 victory, showing flashes of talent. This same talent allowed him to score five goals and make two assists with the youth team. His exploits have even earned him a starting spot in the team that will face Crotone in Serie A the following Sunday.
Ebrima Darboe expresses her gratitude to her coaches
The teenager struggled to contain his joy during post-match interviews. And he talked about his journey to today, thanking the coaches for showing such confidence in him.
"Four or five years ago, I was in Africa, watching the players on TV. And today I was playing against some of them. So I was very excited about it.
"I went through a rather unusual time. It's true that I had to make a long journey, a little difficult, to get here, but since I've been here [in Italy], my life has changed.
"Iwant to thank the coaches, Paulo Fonseca and Alberto De Rossi, as well as everyone who has coached me since I've been here," he said.
"I've learned so much that I didn't know before from them, so if I'm where I am now, it's because of the coach and the staff. I want to thank them all."
Will he get carried away? Of course not. This boy has learned not to take anything for granted in life, and he is just getting started.
"I don't think I've done anything yet, I think I still have a long way to go. I try to train as best I can and do everything I can to help the team."
CAN 2021: Gambia selects him for the final phase
The young Ebrima Darboe has been included in the list of 28 players who will represent Gambia at the next CAN 2021 in Cameroon. He will be part of the contingent of four players playing in the Italian Serie A of the group. Musa Barrow (Bologna), Omar Colley (Sampdoria) and winger Ebrima Colley (Spezia) are the other three.
For this first appearance of The Gambia in the African Cup of Nations, the country has a lot of ambitions. This selection also counts on Dembo Darboe, top scorer in Belarus with the champions of Shakhtyor Soligorsk. Modou Barrow, who played for Swansea City, will also be on the trip.
Gambia is installed in Group F of the Africa Cup of Nations. His first match is scheduled for January 12 against Mauritania on January 12. They will also meet with Mali and Tunisia.