23 tävlingsmål för AFC – men för Samuel kommer laget först
Samuel Nnamani är AFC Eskilstunas spjutspets och skyttekung. Men karriären har inte varit spikrak. Det började med gatufotboll i Nigerias huvudstad Lagos. Följdes av den första organiserade fotbollsträningen och matcherna i 14 års ålder. Via proffsspel i serbiska högstaligan och provspel i Degerfors och Karlslund, knöt AFC till sig den kraftfulle powerforwarden på våren 2018. Samuel var sedan en starkt bidragande orsak till att klubben kunde spela sig upp till Allsvenskan i fiol. Under sina två debutsäsonger i Svensk elitfotboll har Samuel Nnamani redan gjort 23 mål i tävlingsmatcher för AFC, över 30 mål med träningsmatcher inräknat. Många mål har kommit med huvudet och många har också varit direkt matchavgörande. 24-åringen drömmer nu om att hjälpa klubben att klara sig kvar i Allsvenskan. Vem som gör målen är dock oviktigt för den sympatiska, ödmjuka och hårt arbetande forwarden, bara laget lyckas kollektivt.
-I do not believe in indiviudal play at all. If I do a goal, the prays should go to the team. I think teamplay is very important, if I do it, we do it. It does not matter who scores for us, we just have to work hard for eachother and give everything this last games, says Samuel.
Tell me about your career with own words
-In the beginning it was not so fantastic, but right now, I am very happy and having the best period in my football career. Earlier I was playing in Serbia, 2014 and 2015. It started 2014 in Sloga Petrovac, a small club in a small town. I never had the opportunity to play during the first six months because of the rules with foreign players, so the hole season I could not play one single game. On that time I was also injuried.
-Then I moved to a club in the serbian Premier Leuge, the fourth best club, Jagodina. We won the cup that year and played in the Europa Leuage. I made my debut in Jagodina in 2015, but we had to break the contract because I did not play, so I moved to a another team, Donji Srem, in second Leuge. That was in the summer 2015. I was there during the preseason and I signed for a year. I was playing as a winger, made 19 apperiances and some assists. Then I moved to Sloboda Ucice, in the summer 2016. We were very good and were almost promoted to the Premier Leuage, but missed it with one point. I played 24 apperiances, as a second striker, made six goals and many assists. After that I moved to Sweden and Karlstad.
Christ Embassador FC was your first club, tell me about it and your background in Nigeria.
-I started to play in the streets, in Lagos. My older brother bought a pair of shoes to me. We helped to clean the streets and for some hours there were no cars in the streets, then we played a lot.
-Crist Embassador FC is like a academy, we were sponsorod by the church. We played tournaments and sometimes the scouts comes around. I was there and I had a offer from some other academy, they have made some great players.
-I was 14 years old when I started to train and play games. Most of the guys that were already there were very good. After two years I was at the same level. My mother always said, you do not have to play becuase your brother already plays. My older brother played in Italy for many years, in the youth team of Fiorentina, then in Genoa. He played in Serie B and Serie C in Italy. But the neighbourhood started to talk about that I had to play.
-I played almost four years in the academy and after that I went to Serbia. A friend of me, a striker, went to Monoaco and then to Dynamo Kiev, without contract. The same scout had interest of me, thats why I came to Serbia.
Can you dream of playing in Italy one day?
-While my brother was in Italy, it was my dream country to go to and play in, AC Milan was my favorite team.
How is the serbian leuage?
-They have a lot of telented players and there are a lot of duells in the games. The best team is Partizan Belgrade, their fans are very wild and cracy. I played against them in a cup game and I had to warm up under the hooligans, they made bad sounds. The time in Serbia was a mix of feelings, I met so many friends.
As I understand according to your experience against Partizan and your mixed feelings, did you experienced the awful and destroying rasicm in Serbia?
-Yes, and that made me feel so, so bad. That made me not want to go out, to avoid the comments and the pointings. Our own fans never described you with your name, they used ”that black guy”. But I also remember my own team mate, he is Serbian, but the opponents fans said some crazy words to him so I think in that aspect, they don´t care if you are white, or black, or Asian, as long you don´t play for their team they will say something to annoy you.
Samuels fiance Stella, that is joining us for a coffee during the interview, also remembers their time in Serbia and she was not silent, respect Stella!
-I was so angry when I heard them at the stadium and many times I stood up and said, ”Listen, he has a name, his name is Samuel”. People should respect eachother as individuals, says Stella.
You did finish your contract with Sloboda Uzice in August 2017, but did not joined AFC until april 2018, what happened during this time?
-When I came to Sweden, I was thinking to go back to Ucice, they offered me another contract. But I did not take it and I was staying in Karlstad with my family. I had a connection to go on a trial to Degerfors in the autumn of 2017. I trained with them and I played one game with them. We draw, 1-1 and I scored. Before the game, their sports director promised me to offer me a contract. They talked about my values, as a striker, to score goals. I think I did my job but he never gave me a contract. I think I spent almost two months training with them, without getting any compensation for that.
AFC Eskilstuna should be very happy Degerfors did not understand their huge possibility to get a great person, a great player that are developing and has his best years in front of him. Two years later, Samuel Nnamani has scored 23 competition goals for AFC. 12 goals in Superettan last season 2018 and the equalizer against Brommapojkarna away in the qualification to Allsvenskan 2018, this year three goals in the Svenska Cupen and so far 7 goals in Allsvenskan. By example, this year Samuel has scored against almlost all the best clubs in Sweden like IFK Norrköping, IFK Göteborg, AIK twice, Helsingborg, Djurgården, Kalmar and Sundsvall. He has also always made some goals in the preseason.
What made you choose AFC Eskilstuna?
-First of all, I did not choose. Nemanja had spoken with some players in Seriba that knew about me, he thought it was intresting I was a fluent in the Serbian language. I was training with Karlsund in Örebro at that time when AFC first contacted me.
-At that time, me, my fiancee Stella and our daughter Naomi lived in Karlstad and I took the train to Örebro and trained with Karlsund. I started to train with them in January 2018. Karlslund was interested in me, but I do not know, we had a frindly game against AFC, that when everything happened. I played 45 minutes, I was not fit but did some efforts. After that Nemanja contacted me, in february. Then I trained with AFC, I stayed with Buya for one week, in february, we trained and I played a game with AFC, against Västerås SK and I scored, it was a good game. Then I played another game, I scored and Luka scored, we played aganist Akropolis. Then we played against Landskrona and won 2-0, I scored the two goals. After that I was offered a contract. For me it was a good performance.
Samuel speaks many languages but still not swedish, Motståndarkollen ask him about it.
How did it come, you did not learn swedish yet?
-Here everybody speaks english, but I want to learn swedish and I am thinking about starting taking courses.
You have scored impressive 23 goals competetive goals for AFC during the two seasons, over 30 including preseason games. Many important goals as well, how do you summarize your time in AFC?
-It´s my best season ever, best time ever in football. Last season as well, I had the opportunity to help the team to score some important winning goals. 13 goals last year, 12 in Superettan and one in the play off. Then we got promoted and now we are here today. It was not a bad start this year with the cup and the start against Göteborg at home. I think I had 3 goals in the cup games and 7 goals in Allsvenskan. Great experience in the beginning, then struggeling. But the last game shows great feeling, that we can do it to stay in the Premier Leuage. The goals are important but I think helping the club is the most important.
How long is your contract with AFC?
-I came in March 2018 and signed a 3-yearcontract so it will end the 31 of December 2020.
How does it feel to stay in AFC next season?
-I feel positive, becuase I wanted to play in the top division to continue what we are working with in AFC.
What is your strenghts as a football player?
-I think I am strong as a player and I think if I have chances, I think I can score goals. My focus is to put the ball in the net, as much as I can. Maybe I am also able to score with the head. I have scored many goals with my head, even more than with my legs. I am a teamplayer and a kind of person that wants to help the team, offensivly and defensivly.
What do you have to develope?
-I would say my shooting and my finishing. Be calm when you are around the area in the box.
You seem to be a very humble, nice and calm person, how does it effect you on the pitch?
-It is different aspects. With teammates you have to be humble, from the youngest player in the team to the oldest, you are the same, you are not more important than anybody else. You have to be the person you are, because you believe in it.
-In the box, sometimes you have to be tought and wild, cause you might be humiliated by the opponents. But this is just a beginning, I have not met great defenders yet, this is normal for me.
What is your future dreams about your football career?
-I think, as a football player, everyones wish is to play in the highest level. For me it is important to play and to be happy, but my aim of course is to play in the highest level, in England, Spain, Italy or France.
What do you think about the city of Eskilstuna?
-Nothing wrong with the city, there are nice people here. They only have to come out to watch the games, not sit home and watch it on TV. We would like more people to come and support us. But everything is nice here, the city and the people around.
What do you want to say to the people in Eskilstuna?
-Some how, some time we need to be patient. It´s a small team and it is growing. There are many big and old clubs in Sweden that never had this oppurtunity to be at this level, in Allsvenskan. We are doing our job and trying our best to help the team, the club and the city of Eskilstuna to stay in Allsvenskan. Welcome to Tunavallen on Sunday!
What do you like to do when you have a day off?
-Most time I go to ride the bike. Sometimes we do something with my family. Tomorrow (Thursday) I will ride the bike and then take my family to Eskilstuna swimming house, Munktellbadet. It is a good place for relaxation and recovering. I have been to the relaxation in Munktellbadet as well, that was nice.
How is Saulius and Saulius as coaches?
-They are great, they are men with a great sense of humor, they joke a lot and are nice persons. They are good tactically in the way they try to help the team.
Sirius is coming up on Sunday, what do you remember from the first game in Uppsala?
-I would say the first half we did not very well, we did not pressure them high enought, we had some problems and concieved early goals. Then the second half was better, we got some chanses but they had the was in the lead 3-1. If we would not have conceived the three goals we could have equalized them, they went down and start defend.
Tell me about your thoughts about Sirius and the game on Sunday?
-Sirius, when they are good they are really good. When they play bad they are really bad. They were very good against us and AIK at home. They are not bad, a good team. It is a game, almost the same level like us, not a big team. Usually it will be a lot of fighting and try to create chances and opportunities.
Naomi, your daughter, is singing in the background Samuel?
-Yes, she is trying to take what I am eating.
What are Sirius strenghts?
-They have a very good midfield, very good attacking midfielders. It´s a guy, Sam, thats runs in and they can shoot a lot. We have to be ready and block them. Sam shoots like cracy.
What made AFC:s defence better the last games?
-We try to play compact, it is about the all team. We try to cover all place, not aloud them to play through us and to follow every deadly runs.
Only one goal in last four games offensive, how can AFC make more goals in the last two games?
-We just have to play offensive and more often pull the ball towards the box. In the box everything can happen, try to shoot more.
You scored in the last qualification to Allsvenskan, on Grimsta when you made that extremely important 1-1 against Brommapojkarna in the 65th minute. What would it mean to you to shot AFC to another qualification this season?
-I do not believe in indiviudal play at all. If I do it, the prays should go to the team. I think teamplay is very important, if I do it, we do it. It does not matter who scores for us, we just have to work hard for eachother and give everything this last games, says Samuel.
/ Joel Hamberg