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Interview: Senica Ghanaian forward Sadam Sulley talks about life and career

Published on: 01 June 2020

Sadam Sulley appeared at Łazienkowska Street in the summer of 2016 and joined the Legia in a 4-year contract. He didn't break through, didn't make his debut in the first team. But in spite of everything, she remembers staying in Warsaw in superlatives. We talk to a player from Ghana about the time spent in Poland. We ask how does he recall the tournament after which he came to Legia or about friendship with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang? We invite you to talk to the former striker of our club.

What was your childhood like?

Sadam Sulley: It wasn't very colorful. I didn't grow up like most children who had parents by their side. My mother died when I was 11 and my father was not with me - he died a year after I came to Legia. I was looked after by my grandmother and aunts. I had to take care of everything I had. I left my family home at a very young age. I grew up myself and started to learn what is good and what is bad. I learned humility and respect for people. I also have good memories of my childhood, but - as I say - it was not easy. I missed the presence of parents who could tell me what I should do and what not to do. Despite the adversity, I could manage. Where I am today is because I didn't give up, matured on my own and had to take care of the food myself. Thank god for that

Did you have anyone outside the family who you could rely on?

Sadam Sulley: Three very good colleagues. We're still friends, we often talk to each other. In those days they were able to offer me invaluable help. They took me to homes where I could sleep normally and gave me food. One of them had older siblings who looked after him. He appreciated it very much and decided to take care of me too. I am grateful to each of them for this day. I am humble, I respect everything and everyone, no matter who the person is. I also regularly talk with Abdul Basit Abubakra, who closely monitors Legia's results and comments on the club's posts on all social media.

Did you go to school in your country?

Sadam Sulley: Yes, although I did not have the opportunity to complete all levels of education. I attended a high school in Kpedze, which I did not finish due to my family's financial problems. I love football so much that I had to stop learning at that moment. I began to study myself. I assumed that you do not have to acquire knowledge only through classes at school. Man learns all his life. I learned to write and read by interacting with people, being in society. There used to be an Internet company called MTN in Ghana and from 12 o'clock every phone call was free. Sometimes I called this company and talked to nice ladies who worked there just to improve my English. It was funny. Life taught me a lot

Is Ghana a safe country?

Sadam Sulley: It is one of the most peaceful countries in Africa, basically and all over the world. Everyone is friendly here, positive energy beats from everyone. You can go to the sea to experience relaxation and unforgettable views. If you don't look for unnecessary trouble, you won't meet them on the road. I will say it again: Ghana is a very calm and at the same time a fantastic country, I recommend it to every foreigner.

Was there any player you liked to imitate in your childhood?

Sadam Sulley: Yes. It was Didier Drogba. He impressed with physical conditions, strength. We can say that he was a football animal, of course in a positive sense. He could stay on the ball or hit a football with his head, misleading the opposing goalkeeper. In my childhood I cheered on him a lot, I was his big fan. I also followed Pierre-Emeric Aubameyang and Asamoah Gyan. In a way, I grew up with these characters.

Ghana Soccer Fiesta - it was after one of the editions of this tournament that Legia got interested in you. How do you remember this competition?

Sadam Sulley: I remember they were yesterday. This is one of the most important moments in my life. I was returning after the injury. I had a knee injury that excluded me from playing for eight months. My guardian Abdul Aziz Husein was with me all the time. When I was cured, I returned to competition. I was already a little known in the country at that time. I took next football steps, and Husein knew many people. They wanted to get me the best clubs from Ghana, but I wasn't ready for it. I was coming back after playing football. Mr. Aziz contacted me and told me to move to the second league team, to Vision FC, and give my best. He said, "I promise you'll find a club in Europe after the season." I agreed and it worked out for good. I had great statistics. I scored a lot of goals and showed myself from the good side, for which I thank Mr. Husein,

A moment later, I heard about the Ghana Soccer Fiesta tournament, organized by Dreams FC. In total about 20 teams took part in those competitions. We started playing early in the morning. Every day we played two or three matches. In one meeting I scored two goals, I was pleased with the performance. The next day we faced a demanding rival. Again we showed good points, I scored again. I was aware that the tournament was followed by many observers and scouts from various countries. I believed that I presented myself quite well and had the opportunity to catch many contacts.

Michael Osekre, president of Vision FC, i.e. the club where you played then, said that you aroused interest in, among others Anderlecht or Sporting Braga. These clubs really wanted to get you?

Sadam Sulley: Of course. After the tournament I was in touch with representatives of Sporting Braga and Anderlecht. I had a lot of different options. I was interested in five strong teams. In this group, in addition to the previously mentioned teams, there was also Schalke. I remember it very well. Radosław Kucharski (current sports director - editor) also called me and said: "Sulley, please don't talk to anyone, don't answer the phone, just come to Legia, because we are very interested in you." I made a decision and decided that I want to get to the club from Łazienkowska.

When and how did you meet Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang?

Sadam Sulley: I met him three years ago in Warsaw. Borussia Dortmund, in which he played then, competed with Legia in the Champions League. When Aubameyang arrived to Poland for the Champions League match, I had the pleasure of exchanging a few words with him. I told him I knew Andre Ayewa, whom I treat as a brother (Ayew is currently playing in Swansea - ed.). We started talking. I remember that Pierre liked me and gave me contact. I received a shirt from him, which he gave me after the match in the Thibault Moulin locker room. Later we contacted via WhatsApp. He sent me another shirt in which he played against Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga's last round. He is a good and calm man. I respect and value him a lot. He gives me advice all the time if I find myself in difficult situations. We still keep in touch with each other.

Do you also have contact with other players who play in good clubs?

Sadam Sulley: Yes, mainly with representatives of Ghana. I have a good relationship with Mubarak Wakaso, who has performed in Spain almost all his life and has recently signed a contract with a Chinese club (Jiansu Suning - ed.). I am in touch with Jordan Ayew, brother Andre. I also talk with Sulley Muntari, who in the past represented AC Milan. I treat him like a brother. Most Ghanaian players have had the opportunity to play in big clubs. They gave me important tips because I was a young player. I could learn many things from them.

Is there something characteristic of Ghana that you would like to "transfer" to Europe?

Sadam Sulley: Even better contact with friends or even easier access to meet new people. The African population is one big family. Most of the people there are treated like brothers and sisters, whether you have family ties or not. It doesn't matter if you only see them while walking on the street, because you know that he is a man who is important to you. In this way, unity is created.

However, Europe is a little different. There is a rush and nervousness here. Everyone is concerned about individual things, they don't have time for themselves. They wake up, go to work, and after finishing rushing home. There is not enough time for interpersonal relationships. Some people do not have the opportunity to meet even people from the neighborhood. It comes to a situation that the neighbor, who is only one wall away from you, is completely strange to you. And it is very possible that for three years living next to each other, you'll never see him.

Everyone in Africa feels very at ease and is open to other people. It happens that someone knocks on the door of another inhabitant and says: "I went shopping, but I forgot sugar. Could you buy it for me? " Meeting a refusal to grant a request is practically impossible. I think that you have to take care of friendship and good relations with others. You can go out with someone for coffee, have a good time and just laugh. I would like it to be more common in Europe.

Do you feel important in Ghana? I am asking because you once posted a photo on Instagram - you visited the Volt Region. It was obvious that people from there support you very much and set you as an example.

Sadam Sulley:  Yes. When I visit my homeland I feel really honored. It's unique when I see how I am perceived by young people, friends and people around me who know what I was struggling with as a child and appreciate my hard work. When I return to Ghana, many people support me and speak very positively about me. The local community shows me respect and admires me, which drives me to overcome new barriers. It happens that a boy approaches me who does not beat around the bush and says directly: "Sadam, I admire you. I play football thanks to you. I want to be like you. " Such moments make you feel unearthly and happy that you have the right influence on people. I really appreciate it and I realize that many countrymen support me. Returns to our homeland always enjoy.

Ghanaians treat football as a cult, religion?

Sadam Sulley: Of course. It is known that the level of football in Ghana is not like in Europe. However, we have clubs at a good level that compete in nice local leagues. The development of technology and greater knowledge of football will allow us to reach an even higher level. There is no shortage of talented players in Ghana. The president of the Ghanaian Football Association, Kurt Okraku, together with Michael Osekre, the president of my former club, Vision FC, are doing a great job and are doing great. I believe that football will make great progress in 3-5 years in my country.

You came to Legia in 2016. How do you remember the moment of transfer, the first days in Warsaw?

Sadam Sulley: Excellent. Before leaving for Poland, I read Legia supporters' comments about me. I must admit that I was nervous and shocked by the whole situation. When I found myself at Chopin Airport, I saw a group of fans and Radek Kucharski who was waiting for me. It was a great moment for me. It was then that I flew to Europe for the first time to be associated with such a big club as Legia. I was accompanied by great emotions and a great feeling. I remember every single detail during the first days in Warsaw.

After the first training, during Besnik Hasi's term, you said that you trained on the grass for the first time in your life. Kidding?

Sadam Sulley: Haha. Grass on European playgrounds is definitely better quality than in Ghana. I remember that it was raining during the first classes in the colors of Legia. We practiced at Łazienkowska, on the side court. Then I just said this sentence that I feel the difference between grass in the Old Continent and Ghana and Africa in general. Not every club has the opportunity to train on the surface I have encountered in Europe. It was therefore my real debut on the grass. Until then, I had never been able to compete on such a good pitch.

Don't trainers teach tactics in Africa? During training with the first team, there was a lack of understanding during tactical classes.

Sadam Sulley: I was lucky to train with Ghanaian trainer Ivan Bugajic in Ghana. He taught me a lot, tactics too, but it is obvious that changing the club is not easy. Each trainer has a different, own concept. I thought it was difficult to comprehend everything immediately after moving to Legia. Over time, however, I began to understand more and take further steps forward.

At the beginning you trained under Besnik Hasi, but you didn't make your debut in the first team.

Sadam Sulley: Besnik Hasi believed in me and trusted me, he knew my potential. He previously worked with many black players when he was in Anderlecht. Then we went to the pre-season camp to Austria. Later, the Polish Super Cup was waiting for us with Lech Poznań. That day the trainer called me and said: "You must be ready. Maybe you will start the match in the basic composition, because you did well in Austria. Everything goes in the right direction. I will use you on the pitch and then you will improve with each passing day. " So I was supposed to play. When I changed clothes in the locker room, I found out that this would not happen. Team leader Konrad Paśniewski said that some of my documents had not yet been sent from Ghana, so I couldn't go out on the pitch. From that moment everything broke down.

I trained intensively, the trainer said I was making progress, we often talked to each other. Then came the time for qualifying for the Champions League, Polish Cup and Premier League. The meeting schedule was tight. Besnik Hasi wanted to give me a chance, but at that time there was a change of coach. If the Albanian stayed in Legia for a longer time, I would probably have the opportunity to play in several meetings and show the fans and the club what I can do.

Then you moved to Legia's reserves. In the third meeting in the second team you scored a goal. It looked good, but you didn't play regularly.

Sadam Sulley: Young players do not always have the right way of thinking. This causes some problems on the pitch, you are not fully focused on what you are doing and you focus on what is happening around the ball. When I was moved to the second team, I did not think positively. A moment earlier I was in the first team and I wanted to fight there for the composition.

I started to play in the reserves, I scored a goal, but the rule in the form of a limit for players from outside the European Union, which was more stringent than in the Premier League, stood in the way. At that time, three-four players who were on the defensive were included in the reserve. For the trainer it was a difficult situation in the context of possible changes, because the defenders must be in the game and are usually from the first to the last minute. This is one of the reasons I didn't have enough opportunities to play in the III league.

At the end of the 2016/17 season, you often played in reserves. Did you feel you could get a chance in the first team?

Sadam Sulley: Yes. When I was in the reserves, I did my best and wanted to play regularly in the second team. I knew I had skills that I can show to Legia supporters and make them happy. I still think I could do it. I think I deserved to get back to "one". I woke up every day and wanted to be an even better player. The coach of the III-league reserves supported me, said that I was doing well and that I would keep working that way. But at that time no one gave me the opportunity to show talent in the first team. I believed that my place was in the first team squad. I know my potential and I know what I could give the club. I think that then I should be in "one".

What do you think - if you had the chance to play in the Polish Premier League, your career would have been different and you could still play in Legia?

Sadam Sulley: I'm 100 percent sure of that. Ekstraklasa is a nice league, with beautiful stadiums, great supporters who cheer up enthusiastically. You can also see the presence of the media, journalists who are at every match and watching the struggles from the height of the stands. When you play and experience all this, confidence increases. If I could prove myself against the background of the Premier League in the colors of Legia, my whole career would look completely different.

What did you learn in Warsaw?

Sadam Sulley: Many things. I gained both as a footballer and a human. I have learned to be patient and hard work. And that you always have to be ready, because you don't know when the chance for the long-awaited performance will come. Then you have to prove the value and present yourself from the best side. During my stay in Legia I had contact with many great people. Jakub Rzeźniczak, who was then a captain, is a great guy, I learned a lot from him. Guilherme turned out to be an amazing man. Just like Thibault Moulin and Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe, with whom I recently spoke. I had the opportunity to play with Belgian, who is like a brother to me. I watched how he behaved on and off the pitch, and how respectfully he relates to everything. To be honest, Legia greatly influenced my development.

How do you remember your stay in Poland?

Sadam Sulley: Arriving in Warsaw and joining Legia was the best decision I made. My only regret is that I could not show my supporters playing in the first team and make them believe in me. But memories of Legia will be remembered forever. I came to the club with a rich history, great fans, based in a great city. Regardless of where you were in Warsaw, you felt respect. Every person I met at Łazienkowska Street turned out to be friendly and good: from the president, to the training staff, chefs ... Everyone wanted it to be the best, it's amazing. I estimate the time spent in Poland in superlatives.

Would you ever like to come back to Legia, to Warsaw?

Sadam Sulley: Yes of course. When I left the club, I felt that I just couldn't complete the mission. I believe I could help the team win trophies and prove their usefulness. I would be very grateful if you could come back. It doesn't matter if such a chance would arise today, tomorrow or just in the future. I would be very pleased about that.

From Legia you went on a two-year loan to Zemplín, you could play in the Slovak Premier League.

Sadam Sulley:  That's right. At some point, I realized that I need regular play. I was not satisfied with the trainings alone and the lack of frequent performances on the pitch. A player builds confidence when he is on the field and plays football. I believe that I made the best decision possible. I wanted to go on loan to another club from the Polish Premier League, but it did not happen. I tried to change something. I came to Zemplin, in which I got a chance to show myself in the highest class. I played there for two years and gained valuable experience. In many matches I played from beginning to end, I felt that I was developing and going forward.

From this season you represent another Slovak club, FK Senica. You went there as a definitive transfer from Legia.

Sadam Sulley: When I ran out of loans for Zemplin, I thought Legia would show me. It seemed to me that my time was coming in Poland and the moment to show my skills. I thought I could fight for the squad and prove that I was ready to compete. During talks with the management, I was told that I had no chance of staying in Warsaw. When you hear these words from the club you love and want to do everything for him, your heart breaks. I felt lost and misunderstood. I was depressed but I had to make a decision. FK Senica made an offer, she was interested in me when I played in Michalovce. I talked to Legia and decided to go to Slovakia. I knew the league there and I knew how it all works. Is this a step forward for me? I think so. I'm in Senica and I'm just fighting whatever the future holds.

What is the situation with football in Slovakia regarding the coronavirus? Apparently there are plans to return to the game on June 6. Is it true?

Sadam Sulley: Hard to say. The first important fact is that we have resumed training. I focus on classes with the club and do everything to be ready for the league's return. If the government decides we should come back to the game tomorrow or early June, I have to be ready, it's my job. It is not known yet when the games will return.

Let's change the subject. The craziest footballer you met in the football locker room?

Sadam Sulley: I have some positive players in my mind. Josh Didiba, or FK Senica captain, is a great guy. In Legia, Steeven Langil and Michał Kucharczyk were the leaders. I think that Kuchy is the most positive player I've ever met in Poland. A crazy man whom I liked very much.

The biggest joy?

Sadam Sulley: When you wake up every morning and are happy to be alive. Everything else will work itself out. Greatest fear? I wouldn't say death. Everyone will ever die, this is the way things are, that's why I don't think about it and I'm not afraid of it. The main problem for me is waking up and finding out that you have lost everything you had.

The best player you played with in one team?

Sadam Sulley: Vadis Odjijda-Ofoe. Strong, technical with high skills. The football player who plays in front of him can feel comfortable. Belgian can send enough accurate passes. The best one I've played against? Moha from Slovan Bratislava. Very fast and talented. An amazing footballer.

A youth player who could make a more serious career?

Sadam Sulley: I would point to one of my friends - Abdul Aziz Nurudeen. I think he deserves more. He is still competing in the Ghanaian Premier League, playing for Hearts of Oak, which is one of the leading teams in the country. He is also a youth representative of the country. I think he should perform in an even better club. He has great talent, he is great.

Biggest dream?

Sadam Sulley: Winning the Champions League, performance at the world championship with the Ghana team, as well as playing for major European clubs. I want this to happen. As for private dreams, I would like to marry my wonderful bride and have a child with her.

What does Sadam Sulley do outside of the ball?

Sadam Sulley: I like to move. I played basketball and table tennis. I am happy to travel. But not alone, because it is not pleasant, only with the bride. Sometimes I go to the cinema or for coffee. However, I am a householder, I spend a lot of free time in the apartment. Then I watch movies with great pleasure, at this moment my favorite is "Divine Intervention". This is a sports film that shows that faith in God combined with hard work can help you reach your goal. I recommend to everyone.


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