Nestled as a small enclave in West Africa, The Gambia is a country that has always been a ripple in the global football landscape. However, the small nation is slowly starting to generate talents that are finding form in some of football’s biggest leagues. Indeed, it is in Italy’s Serie A that has emerged as the proving ground for Gambian players.
All 7 Gambian players in the history of Serie A have emerged since the 2010s with many of the squad responsible for helping their nation reach their first major tournament in its history – the 2022 African Cup of Nations. So just who are the best Gambian players in Serie A history?
The best Gambian players in Serie A history
Ali Sowe (Chievo)
Ali Sowe became Gambia’s first ever player to feature in Serie A when he joined Chievo in 2013 from local side GAMTEL. He immediately featured in two games in May 2013 for the Verona side making brief cameos. This would be the only Serie A he would see as he would spend the next 6 seasons on loan across Europe.
The most productive of these loans was in Albania with Skenderbeu Korce helping the side win the 2017/18 Albanian Superliga title and claiming the league’s top scorer award with 21 goals in 33 games. This form saw Sowe finally leave Italy for Eastern Europe with moves to Bulgaria’s CSKA Sofia in 2019 and then Russian Premier League side Rostov in 2020.
Lamin Jallow (Chievo)
Like some of his compatriots, Lamin Jallow got his break in Serie A with Chievo in 2014. The tricky winger enjoyed some strong game-time in the Italian lower leagues before making his debut in 2017. However, after two appearances in the 2016/17 season, Jallow was sent back on loan to Cesena scoring 11 goals in 33 games through their 2017/18 Serie B campaign.
This caught the eye of fellow second tier side Salernitana who bought Jallow in the summer of 2018. Since then, Jallow has remained a fixture in Serie B playing for Salernitana before moving to Vicenza in August 2020.
Omar Colley (Sampdoria)
One of Gambia’s more prominent stars in the 2010s, Omar Colley’s journey has taken him across the world. The versatile defender can play either as a left-back or in the centre and it was these skills that sent it to trials in the USA and Finland. After impressing in Finland with KuPS and Sweden with Djurgardens, Colley moved to Belgium with Genk helping his side become prominent title contenders.
It was in 2018 that Sampdoria moved for Colley who were impressed with his consistency and commitment at the highest level. Since then, he has been a regular for the Genoa side in Serie A helping them maintain their spot as mid-table stalwarts and upholding his reputation as one of the finest Gambian players to have appeared in the competition.
Ebrima Darboe (Roma)
Whilst Darboe was born in The Gambia, the fledgling midfield was raised in Italy from his early childhood years. Having moved to Italy as a refugee, Darboe’s plight and tenacity caught the eye of teams scouting for raw talent. It would be Serie A giants Roma who eventually would sign Darboe in 2017 and giving him a full contract in 2019.
After several impressive cameos in cup games and reserve matches, Darboe finally debuted in May 2021 as a sub against Sampdoria. Since then, his excellent passing and calmness on the ball has seen him more prominently featured for the Giallorossi. His biggest landmark came in 15 May 2021 where he featured against Lazio in the Rome derby and setting the benchmark of becoming the first player born this century to feature in the classic fixture.
Ebrima Colley (Atalanta, Hellas Verona, La Spezia)
Signed by Atalanta in 2017 as part of their expanded youth squad, Ebrima Colley had pace and skill to burn which impressed at youth levels. It was why the winger was given his chance in the 2019/20 with the Atalanta side to showcase his potential playing five times in that season.
After that, he joined Hellas Verona on loan where he struggled to help Hellas avoid the drop scoring just once in 21 games. The experience proved pivotal though as he secured another loan in Serie A moving to Spezia at the start of the 2021/22 season where he has notched up 2 assists in 10 games in a bid to gain more prominence in Italian football.
Musa Juwara (Chievo, Bologna)
Musa Juwara has been a player that has been all across Italy. After various youth stints with both Virtus and Torino, the diminutive striker got a breakthrough with Chievo in 2019 debuting in a match against Frosinone. It was enough of a cameo to convince Bologna to sign him in the summer of 2019 where he featured intermittently off the bench.
After several cameos, including the winning goal against Inter Milan in July 2020, he moved on loan to Boavista in Portugal for the 2020/21 season. The move to Portugal proved to be counterproductive and Juwara moved on loan to Crotone in 2021/22 in hopes of more experience at a high level.
Musa Barrow (Atalanta, Bologna)
For most of the 2010s, Musa Barrow has been one of the more promising African talents in European football. Having been with the Atalanta youth setup since 2016, the pacey winger caught the eye of many when he debuted in the 2017/18 season scoring three goals in 12 games. After a stop-start 2018/19 season, Barrow moved on loan to Bologna becoming one of their more prominent strikers immediately upon joining the squad.
His finishing improved with Bologna and merged with his lightning pace, he started scoring notching up 9 goals in 18 games for the 2019/20 campaign. Staying with Bologna for 2020/21, he would score nine goals that season seeing Bologna making him an official squad member. Since then, he has led the line for them and showcased why he is leading Gambia’s charge into the spotlight for the first time ever. Undoubtedly one of the best Gambian players in Serie A history.
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