Godfred Donsah revealed his extraordinary story from illegal immigrant to Cagliari starlet and his Premier League dream.
The 18-year-old has already scored two goals in his first 15 Serie A appearances and is already on the radar of several top clubs, including Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool.
It’s a long way from his origins in Ghana and he told his story to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“My father left in 2007 on a boat as an illegal immigrant. We were afraid, as Italy seemed like a mirage, but he wanted work and to give my sisters the opportunity to study.
“He was tired of working in the cocoa plantations, where my mother still works and I worked too. Believe me, it’s tough. You are there for hours under the sun, but I can assure you our cocoa is the best you can buy.
“I arrived in Palermo aged 15. I trained with the first team and Fabrizio Miccoli asked me how old I was. I didn’t have a visa, so I couldn’t stay longer than six months.
“Thankfully director Sean Sogliano helped me get my papers in order and took me to Verona. I’ll never stop thanking him or Afriyie Acquah, who is my best friend. He helped me in Palermo, gave me some money and even gifted me my first football boots. I was accustomed to playing barefoot.
“At Verona I was in the youth team and Andrea Mandorlini gave me a Serie A debut. He said I needed to work harder. I’ve always been ready to work, as I know that I have to eat and look after my family.
“By June my family will finally have a nice home and perhaps my father will return to live with my mother. They don’t want to be separated anymore and I can look after them. I’m very careful and will only buy myself a nice car after my career is finished.”
Donsah currently lives with his father Tachi, who used to pick tomatoes and is now looking for work as a driver.
“Zdenek Zeman put his faith in me, Gianfranco Zola motivated me further. It doesn’t matter if I play on the right or the left of midfield. I am happy at Cagliari, it feels like a family and I repay them with hard work.
“I know that in those 90 minutes I have to work myself to death. I’d like to stay at Cagliari for a while longer so I can make an impact in this team and this city.
“If one day I do go to the Premier League, then I will owe it to Cagliari.”
England remains his dream after watching the games transmitted on television in Ghana.
“My mother would give me money every now and then, about €2, to see the games at a local bar. That’s how I started supporting Chelsea and my idol Michael Essien. I have his jersey.”
Cagliari bought Donsah from Verona last summer for just €2.2m, but his price-tag is sky-rocketing with every appearance.
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