(JollofNews) – Gambian refugee Bakary Jatta got his first taste of life as a professional footballer on Wednesday as he trained with Hamburg.
The 18-year-old striker was put through his paces during the session at their Switzerland training camp as he looked to impress his new team-mates and manager Bruno Labbadia.
And Jatta showed both that he is not shy of a challenge as he lunged in on striker Sven Schipplock
Labbadia will be hoping the teenager can replicate that tenacity in the Bundesliga next season if given the chance.
Jatta penned a three-year professional deal with Hamburg earlier in June, where he will earn £8,200 a month. His new income is vastly different to the world he grew up in Africa.
Last year and as a lone teenager, Jatta made the dangerous Mediterranean crossing from North Africa to Germany via Italy.
Having arrived in Germany last August, he then studied in a youth academy run by former boxer Lothar Kannenberg in Bremen.
The centre offers a temporary home for troubled youths but also for migrants whom it seeks to integrate into society through language training, schooling and sports.
There he would attend school classes on weekday mornings and then individual training sessions with his
coach in the afternoons.
Aside from doing strength, endurance and aquatic exercises, he was allowed to join the evening training sessions of the local club Bremer SV before doing his school homework.
Jatta, who had previously never played for a club, impressed Hamburg during a practice session in January but had to wait, under FIFA rules, until after his 18th birthday on June 6 to sign up.
And speaking about his arrival to the German outfit, Jatta’s happiness was evident.
‘I’m very, very happy,’ he told the club’s official website. ‘For me it’s a great feeling and a great challenge to play for a big club like HSV.’
‘I grew up without parents, the conditions were very bad for me in Africa. I knew I had to take this difficult and dangerous path of escape if I wanted to have a chance to have a future. I took many risks. It was a difficult time, but now I just want to look ahead.’
‘For me all of this is new and exciting,’ he said, recounting that he had received next to no real training in Gambia where ‘we were on our own, we played football on the street and taught ourselves’.
On his new position with HSV, he said, ‘I want to seize this opportunity, that’s my goal. I want to give everything to become the best ‘Baka’ I can be and become a role model for many other people.’
Labbadia told Sport Bild of Jatta: ‘Bakery has strong playing instincts.We look strictly at performance. There’ll be no refugee bonus with us.’
Written by Luke Augustus for MailOnline