Gambia-eligible: Joe Sise’s Tale of Woes

By Sulayman Bah

He was viewed as Sweden’s most sought-after star. Likened to poster boy Zlatan Ibrahimovic in reference to style and that mammoth towering frame, Joe Sise was seen as the possible long term replacement of the now injured Manchester United goal machine.

It’s little wonder the Swedish FA moved heaven and earth in bid to get him commit his international future to the Scandinavian country.

Gambia –home to the player’s parents –were at a disadvantage to win over their own kind.

International football competition is key in swaying big stars. However, on account Gambia has never before reached a Nations Cup tourney with World Cup qualification not even on the wish-list, the then Football Association, stood no chance and so resigned to conceding defeat in the race to get Sise in Scorpion colours.

Such predicament is certainly a dampener but the good news is Joe is still to play internationally and the reason is no question of his talent waning but rather one of catalogue of injuries.

The problem dates back six years ago when he switched the divide to join Danish giants Nordsjaelland in a reported three-year bumper contract. What was to be a stepping stone to reach the big leagues of Europe turned catastrophic, at least on the part of the forward.

It occurred Sise sustained an injury at time of making the transfer but Nordsjaelland, determined to land the attacker’s signature to ward off overtures from other clubs, sanctioned the transfer on the guaranteed promise by Swedish side  BK Halmstad that Sise’s injury isn’t worst as first feared.

Then the first season elapsed without fans seeing glimpse of their supposed star signing. The same trend followed in the ensuring two seasons. Consequently, Joe, ran down two years of his three-year deal without kicking a ball.

The closest he’s come to playing for the club was in the final 12 months of his contract, taking part in all pre-season matches before an injury recurrence spelt an end to his hopes of ever showcasing his worth in the Denmark Super League.

Disenchanted, Sise had to pack his luggage returning to Sweden, his dreams unfulfilled.

Even upon touching down, he wasn’t any sort of takers with a gargantuan of interest from top clubs. Erstwhile employers BK Halmstad offered him to return but getting back to shape first was of priority to Sise then.

Rigours of top tier football at that crucial juncture did not appeal for the injury-blighted goal-getter, and so took the decision to drop four divisions, putting pen-to-paper with IS Halmia last year.

The trajectory came much as a shock. Halmia were the beneficiary of having a lethal possession in the form of Joe in their wings.

Surely but steadily, he peeled off 12 goals in 18 games. Then disaster struck again. The Spaghetti-legged goal-poacher had to go under the knife.

The operation turned out as planned and as he recuperated, the situation took a nasty twist clearing the path for a circle of injuries to creep in. The tissue on his leg got an infection and was eating into the tendon. A new operation had to be conducted with an allograft technology on the eve of Christmas.

‘That has to be done otherwise I wouldn’t be able to play football again or run at all,’ Joe says, describing the extent of the abrasion.

The flurry of worries may now cease a bit with another rehabilitation programme for Sise to undergo. Frustrating as it may sound, he won’t be back playing until three months later –to be specific in August.

‘My goal is to be back in August. Then if I can play football in August or run in August, I am not sure of that too. She (the specialist) says it is reasonable, but I cannot promise it,’ Joe, now 27 says, retreating balls as he watched his teammates train from the sidelines with a plastered brace attached on his leg.

The striker’s unpleasant condition could leave any athlete desolate with broken dreams. However, throwing in the towel is not a part of Joe’s persona.

‘I do not care what people think. Many people think I’m hurtful, but it’s been all bad luck for me.

‘When I came back to Halmia, I felt stronger mentally and smarter as a player. Now I can train my body, and if I get what everyone else gets (fitness) and injury-free, I’ll be able to play for ten years.’

It would be unsurprising to see raft of sides on the queue again when Sise returns to the game. But until then, he remains afflicted by injuries.