UEFA.com’s weekly wonderkid: Ousman Manneh

Young striker Ousman Manneh has turned heads with his rapid progress since making his Werder Bremen debut and appears to have all the gifts to make it to the top. 

Name: Ousman Manneh
Club: Werder Bremen
Debut: 21 September 2016 v Mainz (Bundesliga)
Position: forward
Nationality: Gambian
Born: 10 March 1997
Preferred foot: right
Height: 189cm

They say …
“He’s a young player with huge potential. He has never been gifted anything, but instead he’s worked hard the last few years and shown a constant development. It is an exciting task for us to further help him in his sporting development. He has attributes which we can use to our benefit.”
Alexander Nouri, Bremen coach

“He’s very diligent and eager to learn. He listens and implements what’s expected of him. He’s a down-to-earth and positive person and always in a good mood. We are all really happy for him and he deserves to have scored this goal.”
Zlatko Junuzović, Manneh’s Bremen team-mate, following a 2-1 win over Leverkusen in October

Ousman MannehManneh gets a terrace selfie©Getty Images

Background …
Born on the west coast of Africa in Gambia, he left the country for Germany two years ago, aged 17. He immediately impressed in a trial for the youth team at Blumenthaler SV and it only took a few competitive matches to make his mark.

There were many interested parties but Manneh chose the local option and joined Werder. After three goals in 28 matches in the third division for Bremen’s second team last season, he made his Bundesliga debut in September against Mainz. Four weeks later came his big moment when he scored the winner in Werder’s 2-1 victory over Leverkusen.

Playing style …

Manneh combines finishing efficiency with a good work ethic. He’s a modern forward who can play as a lone striker but puts in the runs to close down gaps once his team have lost possession. It is not just his aerial prowess, but his pace and competitiveness that make him stand out.

Shades of …
Manneh cites Bremen legend Claudio Pizarro and Dutch striker Robin van Persie as his idols and while he appears to possess their clinical finishing skills, Manneh’s industry and physical attributes also draw comparisons with a young Mario Mandžukić.

Ousman Manneh (Bremen)  Diego Demme (Leipzig)Manneh in Bundesliga action©Getty Images

Eureka moment …
Late in Bremen’s pre-season for the 2015/16 campaign, Manneh was included in the squad for a friendly against Wilhemshaven. He came on as a second-half substitute and scored four times in 15 minutes, the pick of his goals coming after a fine solo run.

Best-case scenario …
He’s already made history as the first Gambian player to score in the Bundesliga. However, once Bremen’s injury worries ease and Pizarro and Max Kruse return, he will need to show patience. Werder will always reward hard-working youngsters and it should only be a matter of time before Manneh can fulfill one of his dreams – to represent Gambia at senior level.

He says …
“I have no problem being called a refugee. I am and always will be one. I always wanted to play in the Bundesliga and have accomplished this goal. It is my dream to become a proper striker like [Robert] Lewandowski and [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang, but I know how unbelievably difficult this will be.”

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