Gambian refugee Ousman Manneh became a fan favorite hero for Werder Bremen this past Saturday when his 59th minute sliding effort lifted his side past Bayer Leverkusen for a 2-1 victory. Just two years prior, at the age of 17, Manneh was making the perilous "Backway" journey through Northern Africa and across the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. Although networks of smugglers and migrant routes have expanded in recent years, the journey is still rife with danger and a safe arrival is anything but guaranteed.
But Manneh defied the odds to arrive in Germany and joined the German fifth tier side Blumenthaler in 2014. Scoring 15 goals in 11 games, he impressed scouts from Bremen who signed him to their reserves in March of 2015. On September 21st of this year he made his Bundesliga debut against Mainz.
Ousman says, "I've been so proud to be the first Gambian to play four Bundesliga games, and now I'm proud to be the first one to score." With all the global conflict and civil unrest leading to record numbers of migrants and refugees, we're happy to hear about lives that have been turned around through soccer.