Eighteen-year-old Moustapha Cissé scored his first two Atalanta goals with the composure of a veteran striker.
The first came from a looping through ball, which Cissé took one touch to control before providing a steady low finish inside the far post. The second came on a well-placed, one-touch shot after some strong interplay with a teammate on the edge of the penalty area.
Milan U19 - Atalanta U19 pic.twitter.com/6VLc3BohBl— MenottiBall (@Menottiball) March 1, 2022
Just a few weeks ago, Cissé was a Guinean refugee with no family toiling in the lowest reaches of Italian football. Now, he is scoring goals for the U-19 side of one of the best clubs in Europe.
Cissé's journey began with ASD Rinascita Refugees, a club consisting entirely of foreign players and coaches seeking asylum. The club plays in the Seconda Categoria — the eighth tier of Italian football that consists of nearly 3,000 clubs spread across 296 divisions.
"The team was born with the intention of giving a normalcy to these boys," said Rinascita coach Niang Baye Hassane, a Senegalese native. "I gave them some advice, I transferred a tip to them: You have to take everything seriously. We participate, we are competitive and we are going to win, if we do not win it is the same but the intention is to bring a useful result home with the utmost respect for the rules and with discipline."
Cissé first drew attention from major clubs after a friendly match hosted by Serie B side Lecce back earlier in the year.
Then came the big news during the last week of February.
"Our Moustapha Cissé, Guinean and class of 2003, is an Atalanta player. Good luck, we are proud to have had you with us," Rinascita Refugees wrote on Facebook on February 24. Baye Hassane even assisted as an interpreter during the signing process.
Those who have watched the teenage Guinean play say it won't be long before he is involved in the first team — and he would be more than deserving.