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2010 the Sierra Leonien Mohamed Bangura came to AIK and made a huge success, the following year the countryman Teteh Bangura came with the same result.
Since then AIK has continued to look towards West Africa to find talent.
Today, besides Teteh AIK also has Kwame Karikari, Ibrahim Moro, Ebenezer Ofori (Ghana) and Lalawélé Atakora (Togo) in the squad.
In addition to their origin and that they are reasonably peers the quintet has another common denominator: Nahom Ghidey.
Or “Dad Nahom” as Kwame Karikari call him.
– He is a very loving person. If you have a problem, he always helps, no matter what the case, Karikari said.
Nahom is employed in AIK’s football academy but also has the task of helping the young Africans in the squad. The contract says that 30 percent of the time should go to the young African players – in reality it becomes much more than that.
– How much time I spend? Oh, Jesus. You cannot count the hours. If someone need something at eleven o’clock in the evening – then so be it, says Nahom.
Do you get tired sometimes?
– No. There are days when you wonder if it will be football 24 hours a day, but then I think of that I love what I do.
We are at AIK’s Fitness Karlberg. Nahom have followed the training and chatting as usual with “his” players when the session is over. He describes his job as “being AIK, but still not being AIK”.
– The players know they can talk about anything with me, just everything. I’m not like the club, I’m just Nahom for them.
What is most important for a young player who comes here?
– The simple things. When Kwame came here, he was like my son. A great son, haha. He was very young and it was winter and very cold, so we took care of him. He ate with us all the time.
Kwame, who was then 19, remembers back to March 2012:
– I knew nothing about my new country, nothing was like in Africa. Nahom helped me with my apartment. How to clean, wash, using electric stuff, fixing internet, food shopping, showed me where to take the train, everything like that. He took me to IKEA where we bought things, it was very kind of him.
What was most difficult?
– Washing clothes. At home, we wash clothes with hands, here you make an appointment and use a machine. Nahom had to show us how to do it.
Nahom think it usually go pretty fast for the talents to adapt to their new homeland, because they have each other.
– But there’s no getting away from the cold. They are used to playing in 30-35 degrees, the difference is felt throughout the body. In the winter, they are often stiff, sitting in their apartments and do not want to go out. But they just have to get used to it. After a year or two it gets better.
Nahom was born in Eritrea but moved to Hanover in Germany as a six year old. Eight years ago, love took him to Solna, where he now lives with his wife and two boys, 16 and 18 years old. With a football background from Bundesliga club Hannover 96 – Nahom did not quite reach to the first team – after it was just natural to engage in AIK where he has advanced all the way from Little League to the senior team. That his work is appreciated, he received a receipt for his labor a half year ago when his service was extended by three years.
– Andreas Alm (coach) and Bjorn Wesström (sporting director) think that my job is important, there has been positive feedback all the time. They understand that if the players feel good, they’ll deliver on the pitch, says Nahom.