Your source for Eritrean sports
Jesper, who is in the eighth grade, is working at Sportbladets editorial, as part of his school work experience program. He follows me out to AIK’s Fitness, Karlberg, to interview Alexander Isak. It is only then, when we all three together loaf into the club hut’s dining room, which I really realize how young this striker is.
Isak is 16 years old, weighs only 70 kilograms but is more than 190 centimeters tall. Then just two years older than my 14-year-old colleague Jesper.
– I have to eat more and gain more strength. I might get a little more muscles with age. I’m not that old yet.
Which he isn’t. Between the summer and fall, he for the first time, only 15 years old, came up to train with the professionals in the senior squad.
It is unusual for such a young player to do it?
First it is like the teenager does not really understand the question. Then he dismisses, quite reasonably, my claim.
– But that’s not unusual. Not at AIK anyway.
Isak lists a bunch of other talents born in 1999 – including the American youth Nebiyou Perry, and argue that in AIK is natural to give teenagers the chance.
And empirical gives him the right: Anton Salétros, Christos Gravius, Noah Sonko Sundberg, Sam Lundholm and Robin Quaison are examples of proprietary products that had plenty of playing time in the first team.
– Why young talent gets to play in AIK? First of all, young talents come to AIK. We like get the good players from the beginning, because they know that you get the chance at AIK. That so many become successful, well retrospect that the daily business functions. That we trained appropriately. It is awesome, says Isak.
He is thoughtful. Thinking long on questions and never end up in the flimsy teenage jargon that is so common among high self-esteem super talents.
16-year-old grew up in the neighborhood (Ulriksdal), is studying economics (first year) in Solna high school and has never belonged to any other football academy. During the preseason, he has received – deserved! – A considerable amount of playing time. In the match rehearsal against Inter Turku, Isak thanked for the trust and sent in victory target. It is still not scoring that is most distinctive, rather the way coach Andreas Alm use him. That is more sophisticated than the “out and run the” role of as young players often find themselves in.
– He wants me to be part of building up the attack. I’m someone you can play ball at his feet and spread further – and then my colleagues can take the races and duels.
If Alm was pleased with Isaks match against Inter Turku?
That he after the match said that Alexander Isak was “highly topical for a starting place in the opener against Sundsvall” says well most of the time.
But given that star Carlos Strandberg borrowed at the last moment – and that Eero Markkanen and Denni Avdic gone too full training during the week – is that the starting point is not quite as likely any longer. At the last moment Isak was competed out of the match squad.
But the chance for playing time later in the spring, it is still there.
– It would be so great for me to make a debut. I’m highly topical, and that’s good. To go out on Friends … it would be big.
Who are you attacking role models?
– I look up to Ibrahimovic, and so Henok Goitom, of course.
Just like 15 years older Goitom, Isak has Eritrean descent. Their fathers know each other well and Getafe player has repeatedly praised the 16-year-old on social media, and even gave him advice on the training pitch. They are similar in their style of play, Isak is like Goitom no easy read striker.
– Many people compare us. It is a hard job in front of me, before I get so good. To get praise from Henok is big and I learn a lot from him. We are compatriots and support each other.
In march Isak shot Sweden to the U17 European Championships. There are players in the U-17 team in the youth academy for Premier League clubs. The agent Patrick Mörk has told us that foreign clubs are interested in AIK’s super talent.
– There is interest from England, and a club in Italy. Of course it is fun.
Can you also – like the national team colleagues – be attracted by it?
– Absolutely. There are great clubs, with good conditions. It also depends what the club has planned. It may be tempting to see players get the chance in the first team here in Sweden.
What would you prefer?
– I’d rather play for AIK. That is the situation right now: but you can’t just decide that it should be so. I would most of all like to play in AIK, but anything can happen.