It has been a miserable season for Roma and their supporters, and if the last Tottenham Hotspur experience under Jose Mourinho is anything to go through, next year could be stressful as well.
Amid all the turmoil outside the field and disappointments on the field, a bright light has come to the fore in recent weeks; This is the debut of teenage Ebrima Darboe, and the intimate story that accompanies it.
Life wasn’t easy at all for the 19-year-old. At the age of 14, Darbo left his parents and family to flee famine and war in the Gambia, in an effort to secure a better future for his loved ones. He first reached Libya, before making his way to Europe and then Italy.
Upon his arrival in Italy, he was appointed a social worker and protected under the SPRAR (System for the Protection of Refugees and Asylum Seekers) project. He started his football education in the youth team of the amateur team Rieti, a city in central Italy.
His indisputable talent was noticed by the scouts of Rome, and they gave the teen an experience in which he impressed the spectators with his calmness and talent on the ball. Darboe made his youth team debut in 2019, and has become a fixture on their team.
The Gambian was also selected in the big Roma squad that will face Milan in October 2019, but he had to wait before heading out onto the professional pitch. That moment arrived five minutes after Roma’s 2-0 defeat to Sampdoria on 2 May, when it came to fulfill the unimaginable dream of refugees.
This experience came to the fore on 6 May, when Chris Smalling was injured in the first half of the match, leading to Paulo Fonseca throwing Darboy against Manchester United in the Europa League semi-final at Olympico Stadium.
Darbo gave an impressive self-report on the clock he played in a 3--2 win tonight, showing flashes of talent that saw him score five goals and two assists for the youth team. His exploits even earned him a spot in the Sunday team to face Crotone in Serie A.
The teen could not contain his happiness in the interviews that took place after the match, talked about his journey so far, and thanked the coaches for showing this confidence in him.
He said, “I was nervous when I was coming.”
“Four or five years ago I was in Africa, watching players on TV – and today I was there playing against each other. So, I was really excited about it.
“I had an extraordinary time. It is true that I had to go on a long journey, which was a bit difficult, in order to get here, but since I was here [in Italy] My life has changed.
“I would like to thank the coaches, both Paolo Fonseca and [youth team boss] Alberto de Rossi, and indeed all those who have trained me since I was here. “
“I learned many things from them that I never knew before, so if I am where I am now, it is because of the coach and the staff. I would like to thank them all.”
Will it drift? of course not. This boy has learned to never take anything for granted in life, and he’s 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.”