By Sulayman Bah
Gambia national team captain Omar Colley has revealed why his attempt to join Major League Soccer club Kansa Sporting City fell through.
The 23-year-old was on the brink of sealing a move to Sporting Kansas which could have seen him also offered scholarship to Kansas University but the plan hit the buffers.
The failed proposed transfer had tongues wagging amid claims the MLS outfit wanted to snatch the player without paying a quid to then local side Wallidan.
However six years to the day the deal hit the brick walls, Omar, a former African youth champion, has decided to open up for the first-time over the issue in an exclusive interview since his move to Genk.
‘I quite enjoyed my youth. Until my 17th, when I was ready for the first team. But I was taken to the United States. I could have got a scholarship at the University of Kansas and could also have played football there with Sporting Kansas City. But Wallidan (Football Club) wanted more. I understand the fee was in the region of $75,000. And so the transfer did not take place,” Colley says.
Responding to questions over what influenced his decision to join Genk in the wake of high interest from Bundesliga’s Hertha Berlin and Laliga’s Espanyol, the central defender said a chat with experienced compatriots Mustapha Toubabo Jarju and ex-footballer Seyfo Soley – an ex- Genk player – convinced him.
‘The plan to move to Genk stood out for me. Also my compatriot Seyfo Soley (retired Gambia international), who lives near my parents and, who I frequently see, advised me to join Genk. Mustapha Toubabo Jarju also said the same thing. So I knew I did the right thing,’ he tells Belang Van.
The ex-U-17 and U-20 captain’s €2m switch to Genk, whom he now features regularly for, did not go without controversy. Omar was billed to join the Belgians from Stockholm-based Djurgardens IF but for some reasons, the Pro League flouted the pre-contract rules to invite the Gambia international for a medical without the Swedish club’s knowledge.
The drama triggered a seething Djurgarden Sporting Director threatening to pull the plug on the deal before an apology from the player restored negotiations and days later Colley had his dream to transfer to Genk come true.
Colley has played eleven games all as a starter for Genk.