Gambia forward Yusupha Njie insists he does not feel any pressure to emulate his legendary father Biri Biri, but admitted that he is still inspired by him.
The 27-year-old is the son of late Gambian football great Alhagi Momodou Njie, whose nickname was ‘Biri Biri’.
Speaking to BBC Sport Africa, Njie, who plays for Boavista in the Portuguese Primeira Liga said he loves his father, but he has never felt any pressure to emulate him.
While fans of Spanish club Sevilla still sing Biri Biri’s name, it was his son that Boavista supporters were talking about at the end of the 2020/21 season as he scored the goals that helped the club avoid relegation on the last day of the campaign.
“I heard so many things being said like your father did this and that and you have to do it. To be honest I have zero pressure with all those comparisons.
“My focus is to play the football that I love and try to achieve my goals. I have to do what I love doing and try to achieve as much as possible to reach my targets, but not like I want to do this because of my dad.
“For me I don’t take it as a big thing like I need to prove something or I need to do what my dad did.”
‘Biri Biri’ passed away in the capital city of Senegal Dakar in July last year at the age of 72 and Njie admitted that it has been a tough year since his father’s death.
Njie senior was one of the first African players to make a name for himself in Europe and he was the first Gambian to play professional football overseas when he signed for Danish club B.1901 Nykobing FL in 1972.
A year later he left them to join Spanish side Sevilla, where he spent five seasons.
“It was very hard, very difficult to hear that kind of news losing someone that was so close to you, someone that is so much to you,” an emotional Njie explained.
“It was so difficult for me to deal with, but at the end of the day it’s life and we have to keep moving.
“I lost someone big especially in this game that I’m playing because he was everything to me, my adviser, my confidant, but I still keep his words and memory with me and try to do the best to make him happy.
“People see him as a legend, but for me I see him as a dad as someone that inspires me, as someone that’s there when I need him, as someone that’s at my back pushing me and, someone who wants to see me win.
“He’s my hero and I feel proud to call him my dad and I see all the work he put in.”
The former Real de Banjul and FUS Rabat player may have only scored five times in 21 matches last season, but two of those goals were the crucial ones that saw his side beat Gil Vincente 2-1 on the last day to avoid relegation.
His brace included an 88th minute penalty to secure the three points that guaranteed Boavista’s Primeira Liga status.
“I’m very happy to be the one to help the team to achieve staying up. I think it is safe to say I have earned myself legendary status at the club because everyone is saying this so many names, legend, hero all these things I have been hearing it.
“I’m grateful for this and it feels good to help your team in these kind of situations so I’m very happy to be part of the club’s history.
“The two goals were really important for the team, the Boavista fans and for me personally.
“I’m very happy to help the team stay in the league after a hard season, after so many struggles so many points lost and at the end of the season we finally made it and are able to stay in the league.”
Njie added that despite winning titles in Morocco with FUS Rabat, the emotions of Boavista escaping relegation were on another level.
“It was an amazing feeling and also very emotional. I’ve never experienced those feelings since I turned professional even though I won some trophies like league and cups at my former club (FUS Rabat) in Morocco, but this kind of feeling I never felt it before,” he pointed out.
“It was all about pressure it was tense, so many things, but after we did it I saw on everybody’s face the relief the happiness the joy everything I can see that it’s like lifting a heavy container from their heads.
“Everyone was saying thank you, thank you like I can’t even understand and I was like we all did it. It’s a team I just did what I had to do and now it’s all of us and I think everybody is happy in the club.
“At the end of the day it’s a team we all passed through the season with difficulties, struggling so many hard times, but at the end of the day we were all happy as one family.
“Everybody is good now to enjoy the holidays with a peace of mind and knowing that next season we will be in the top league still to fight and correct our mistakes.”
He joined Boavista on an initial season-long loan move from Moroccan club FUS Rabat in 2017 before signing a permanent three-year contract in 2018 meaning his deal is coming to an end at the end of June.
“In football you never know what’s coming, you never know your next move, but what I can say is I am a player of Boavista at the moment and I’m happy with them.
“We’re good, but let’s see what the future holds right now I’m just trying to enjoy the holidays and relax after the hard season we came from.”
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By FARPost reporter