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Muhammadu Faal interview

Muhammadu Faal

At the beginning of the season, Mo Faal sat down with Taimour Lay to talk Serie C, dreaming big and his hopes for life with the K’s...

Muhammadu, thanks for agreeing to the interview!
Am I cover star or something? 

If we could afford to change the front page design every week, you’d be the cover star, I promise…. So, “welcome back”—why did you decide to stay with K’s this summer?
First and foremost, I just wanted to play. I had a lot of offers, from above and a lot from this league, but I decided who I wanted to play for and for playing time, getting minutes, scoring goals, this was the best place for that. The signings Leigh made weren’t a big factor but they helped. Players like Louie, Elliott, Leo. He’s trying to do something big here so why not join? 

How do you look back on your time with Dulwich? You were popular there and were on the bench for the playoff final so Gavin Rose clearly rated you.
I don’t have regrets. I learned a lot. It was a good time. I learned what it’s like to be around a winning team. I wish I’d played more because I wanted more of it. Everything works out. 

Is the style of play and management very different here?
I see similarities. Leigh wants to attack and score goals. It was the same thing at Dulwich. This season, a lot of teams will come here and try to stifle us and grind out a result. You have to bring your “A” game. That what it was like at Dulwich so it’s not new to me. 

Today [a 3-2 defeat to Brightlingsea Regent] wasn’t a great start...
It was good in patches but when you concede it does knock you back a bit. They weren’t good goals. I’m not worried, though. Last year, at Dulwich we didn’t start well. I think we had 4 points from 5 games or something. As long as we pick it up, we’ll be OK. So don’t panic. 

We’re panicking!
If we’re into October and we are 13th or something, then panic! Otherwise, we’ll be OK. 

Are you enjoying your football these days? Non-league can be a cruel, capricious beast. You’re at the whim of managers and other factors you don’t control. We’ve been enjoying your positive Instagram photos!
I’m always positive! I love football. I know where I want to go. I have dreams. That’s what gets me up in the morning. Knowing I have the chance to play. You have to be grateful. When I tell people I’m playing for Kingstonian they say “oh wow, you’re doing good for yourself”. I know where I want to be but you have to take pride in where you are now and enjoy the journey too.” 

What do you feel is your best position?
Over the past year, my game has evolved immensely. I used to be just a No 9. That’s why I say Dulwich was good for me because they played me No 10, No 9, out on the left sometimes and I got better. So for me, it’s not about where I am but I love No 9, No11, left-wing. On the left I can drive and show what I can do. But even as a No 9, it’s all about goals and I like that too. As an 11, it’s also about goals. Anywhere I can express myself. So I think a 4 3 3 on the left or a No 9 in a 4 4 2. 

Let’s talk about your time in Serie C in Italy!
You’ve done your research! Well, I made my debut for “L’Aquila” at 18 years old in Serie C and then the following year in Serie D when I was 19. 

I was playing with Ryan FC in Walthamstow, they’re in a low low league, I don’t even know which, my friend called me to play one game. I turned up, scored a hat-trick and this agent was watching, he got my number, chatted to me over the next few weeks. Initially, they took me on trial for a week. They signed me within two days.

What was the football like?
Top quality players. You’d be surprised how many technical players. It’s very defensive, in terms of systems. I was playing professional, in 2015/16, and the plan was to keep improving and moving up. But in 2016/17 I was injured for 5 months, a groin injury, November to April, so it was difficult out there. It was one of the most difficult times in my life. Of course it’s beautiful. They put me up in the mountains. But it can get lonely. If you’re not playing and you don’t have family and friends, it can definitely get lonely. I did struggle for those 5 months. 

But when it was good, it must have been great?
When I was playing well and scoring goals, they were putting me in articles, the “next new talent, Muhammadu Faal” and all that sort of stuff and I was thinking “OK!”, we even flew to Sardinia for a game… but things don’t always work out they way they’re supposed to. Their fans are crazy. I was 18, I’d just broken into the team, fans came into the training session and said to everyone “you’d be better win”, 30-40 people stopped the whole session, spoke to the Directors… 

So it’s even worse than the Isthmian!
It’s got nothing on it! 

Did you learn Italian?
I was fluent in Italian but I’ve lost a lot of it now. When I hear someone speaking, I still understand. I recently watched the Juventus documentary on Netflix and I understood it. 

You know there’s a Channel 4 documentary about K’s called “Kingsmeadow”?
No, I didn’t! 

I’ll find you a copy.
Please! I wanna watch it. 

So how did you end up back in the UK?
Well, I came back to London, healed my injury, saw my family and ended up at Dulwich.

Are you a South London boy?
North! But I have an uncle in Peckham so I spend a lot of time on the Victoria Line.

What’s been your best moment at K’s?
That Merstham penalty. The 2-1.

And the worst moment?

What’s your favourite TV programme?
Shooter or Money Heist.

Do you play Fortnite? [FAO Older Fans, it’s a computer game - Ed]
No. I’m a Fifa guy.

Fifa or ProEvo?
Pro! No! what am I talking about? Fifa. I used to be a Pro guy. I used to be both! But I’m a Fifa guy.

What’s the best thing about non-league?
It’s real. You learn a lot about people, what they’re going through, it’s real, real life.

What’s the worst thing about non-league?
It’s real life! It’s the best and worst of real life…

Taimour's interview with Mo Faal originally appeared in Saturday's programme for the game against Bishop's Stortford - as is traditional for such things, Mo did not appear in the match due to injury...

Published Saturday 22nd September 2018