Author: Lamin Drammeh;
former sports-editor; The Point Newspaper
The passing of Alhagie Momodou Njie, commonly known as Biri Biri, is greeted with profound sadness and devastation when it was announced that the former Gambian international footballer died today, July 19 2020, aged 73.
The late Biri Biri would be best remembered for his exploits with Wallidan FC in Gambia and Sevilla in Spain. But it was at the then Spanish giants Sevilla, where he made the biggest impact, earning a global recognition in 1978. Biri Biri became an instrumental figure of Sevilla’s promotion to the first division of the Spanish league barely a year after he signed a 3-year-contract for an undisclosed fee. When his initial contract with the club expired 1981, Sevilla hierarchy, unanimously agreed to keep the industrious forward at the club beyond his initial contract. He was offered an extended two-year-contact in the process.
Essentially, the pacy forward became the fans favorite with his delightful display of talent while at the club and was rewarded for his significant contributions to the then Spanish giants which now created a massive fan-base named after him.
Biri Biri, in one of my interviews with him while working with The Point Newspaper as a sports reporter in 2009, described his time with Sevilla as the most “memorable moment of my football career.”
He continued to attract attention of the football world for his goal scoring ability and was once compared to his former teammate and legendary footballer Diego Maradona of Argentina.
According to reports, Maradona once invited Biri Biri to a high profiled club ceremony in Spain in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the club. It is also reported that during that ceremony, Biri Biri was honored a legendary status at Sevilla Stadium as he swapped club jersey with Maradona as a sign of respect for the tremendous service he rendered to the club. Until the time of his passing, he was believed to be very close to the former world footballer of the year Maradona.
His Early Days Playing School Football:
In a spectacular start to his career as a young starlet, Biri-Biri had spells at St. Mary’s Primary School in mid 50s and would later move to Albion and Stanley schools in Banjul.
The biggest highlight of Biri Biri’s domestic football career came in the 60s, when he joined the local club Wallidan. The move came shortly after he returned home from Derby County where he had a trial in the then English first division team. But disagreements over a signing fee with County would mean the deal collapse.
He won many trophies with Wallidan FC which remain a record-holder of the domestic titles.
Biri Biri was a leading figure with The Gambia National team. He scored the only goal as Gambia registered a famous win against their Senegalese counterparts in a highly-tensed international match played in Dakar in 1965.
He was once quoted by the Gambian media as saying, “my winning goal against Senegal in Dakar is the most memorable goal during my time with the national team. I’m honored to represent my country,” he said.
Beyond his football career, Biri Biri had served in different capacities which include his role as Deputy-mayor of Banjul city council. He was appointed to serve in that capacity by former president Yahya Jammeh, shortly after Jammeh, took over the reigns of power in 1994.
Biri Biri was once named the most successful Gambian footballer of all-time by The Gambia’s veteran football association.
Putting these accomplishments into experts perspectives about his glittering career marked by spectacular highs, the legendary icon Biri Biri, has left a legacy as Gambia’s most successful footballer of all-time
Source: Picture: Momodou Njie, Biri Biri