Musa Juwara: the Gambian who overcame the odds to score at the San Siro

“Believe in yourself, and leave everything to the hands of God,” is the line that not only occupies Musa Juwara’s Instagram bio, but is a way of life for the 18-year-old Bologna winger.

Orphaned at a young age, Juwara took it upon himself to make a name for himself abroad. He left his home country and boarded a ship across the Mediterranean by himself, aged just 15.

Despite being one in 250,000 immigrants that year alone, Juwara, now 18, was determined to succeed in a new country with new opportunities far away from home. He was soon moved to the province of Potenza.

He started off at a number of jobs to settle himself until he found an opportunity to kick-start his footballing career with Virtus Avigliano, an amateur team in a nearby town. As an unaccompanied minor, his team’s coach Vitantonio Summa took Juwara in and because his legal guardian.

The winger was quick to make a name for himself around Potenza due to his impressive form and it didn’t take much time for the bigger teams to start taking note. The young winger managed to fire his club to the regional title in the 2016/2017 season.

Chievo Verona came knocking on the door, and everything was almost sealed and ready to be signed until the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) rejected the transfer.

Loredana Bruno, the wife of Summa, had explained in a previous interview that their choice to get Musa into Chievo Verona came for the sporting path it offered but also the academic and educational one that the club had proposed.

Juwara took education seriously and held the words of his grandfather close to him: “Knowledge comes first.”

Seeing his potential, and being a firm believer of doing his best, Juwara’s new family managed to get legal help to fight the case, and as a result, he was granted permission to transfer to his new club in November 2017.

His debut season with Chievo’s Primavera saw him produce remarkable results netting eight times in 15 games. A year later, the youngster was called up to the first team and made his senior debut against Frosinone.

Juwara playing for the youth side.

The 2018/2019 season wasn’t a good one for Chievo, but Juwara managed an impressive five goals for the Primavera team and another three in three games when he moved to Torino for the Viareggio tournament.

He was named in the Guardian’s list of the 60 best young talents in the world in 2018.

Lights were shining bright ahead of the star and Italian side Bologna signed the winger from the relegated Chievo for a reported fee of 500,000 Euros.

A change of scene did not stop the magnificent winger from continuing his phenomenal form, scoring 13 goals in 18 games for Bologna’s Primavera side, catching the eyes of the first team coach Sinisa Mihajlovic.

Juwara, playing best on either wing, where he can comfortably show off his blistering pace and dribbling skills, was soon called up to the first team, and made his senior Bologna debut, coming off the bench in a 4-0 defeat again Udinese in December. He made his Serie A debut also off the bench against AS Roma before the league was stopped.

Juwara in action

It was this past weekend however that Juwara caught the spotlight of international media, when he come on against Inter Milan on the 65-minute mark. No struggle ever stopped Juwara, and the overwhelming feeling of being in a stadium of San Siro’s caliber was certainly not going to stop him. Less than 10 minutes after walking on the field, the young Gambian was celebrating his first professional goal.

The goal saw Juwara become Bologna’s youngest goalscorer since 2003, and not only grabbed them the equalizer, but also gave space for his Gambian teammate Musa Burrow to give Bologna the lead. It was no surprise the latter opted to switch shirts with Juwara at the end. He even drew a red card later in the game, topping off a great performance as his side shocked Inter.

Juwara’s moment in the spotlight is not one that came lightly, and is certainly something well deserved, from fleeing his native land aged 15 to scoring at the San Siro against Inter Milan aged 18, the Gambian is definitely a player for scouts to keep their eyes on.