The first Bundesliga goal is a milestone for any player. It takes hard work to fight through a thicket of other young hopefuls to get to the first team, and even more effort to get sent onto the pitch. The first time a young player’s shot beats the opposing keeper, he fulfills a childhood dream. Except for Ousman Manneh, it’s much bigger than that.
Manneh spent the first 17 years of his life in Gambia, a tiny and poor West African nation ruled by a dictator who’s been in power since before Manneh was born. A talented footballer, Manneh knew that his troubled home country held no future for him.
Watch: Manneh reacts after scoring his first Bundesliga goal:
Leaving his family behind, he set out for Europe, ending up as an asylum seeker in Germany, where he settled in a home for refugees in Bremen. He played football with Blumenthaler SV, a club in Bremen’s local amateur league, but his obvious talent as a goalscorer soon drew attention from much bigger clubs.
SV Werder Bremen won the race to sign Manneh, and after a season with coach Alexander Nouri in the club’s youth ranks, both men have moved up to the senior side - with success. In the last four games under Nouri’s charge - all four of which Manneh has started - Werder have picked up seven points and Manneh has notched two assists... and now a goal.
bundesliga.com caught up with Manneh after he scored the winner in Werder's latest triumph, a 2-1 victory over Bayer 04 Leverkusen...
bundesliga.com: Congratulations on your first Bundesliga goal. Can you describe how you’re feeling at the moment?
Ousman Manneh: First off I have to thank the fans. I’m standing here and I don’t even know what’s happened. I don’t know if I really did score a goal or if that was just a dream. It’s an indescribable feeling, especially to score the winner against a team as good as Bayer Leverkusen. I just can’t believe it.
bundesliga.com: Tell me a bit about the last few weeks. Your coach, Alexander Nouri has shown a lot of faith in you ever since he took over. He’s played you in every game and now you’ve scored a goal...
Manneh: I’m so surprised at how everything has gone. I really have to thank coach Nouri for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to play on the big stage. And I need to thank the whole club for all the support they’ve given me too.