Hanover - For Senegal international Mame Biram Diouf, the road to the Bundesliga and Hannover 96 began with a move from ASC Diaraf in his native Dakar to Norway's Molde FK in 2007.
Match made in heaven
Aged just 19 at the time, his scoring exploits first helped Molde earn promotion to the Norwegian top flight, before the forward's displays swiftly attracted the interest of a number of bigger clubs around Europe. In July 2009 he signed for Manchester United in a deal which commenced the following January.
After spending 2010/11 on loan at Blackburn Rovers, Diouf returned to United for a further half-season. Then Hannover came calling and, during the 2011/12 winter transfer window, he made the switch to Germany. Signed up with the 96ers on a two-year contract, the powerful and mobile forward wasted no time making his presence felt.
He bagged his first goal in a 4-2 victory over Stuttgart and finished his debut half-season in Lower Saxony with an excellent return of six goals and three assists in only ten Bundesliga appearances. Four more goals in five Europa League outings confirmed that Hannover had conducted another canny bit of business.
Alongside Ivorian international Didier Ya Konan and Oslo-raised goalgetter Mohammed Abedallaoue, Diouf is the third forward on Hannover's books to have had his first taste of the professional European game in Norway. And on the evidence of how he and his two team-mates have adapted to coach Mirko Slomka's system so far, the Scandinavian country's Tippaligaen would appear to be a made-to-measure staging post for emerging talents on the way to the Bundesliga.