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Exclusive interview: Star midfielder Julius Wobay talks about Sierra Leonean youth, European football  

Chaika Mok, Sierra Leone Times

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN – Julius Wobay, an explosive left-footed midfielder known as Gibo to his fans, shot to the world stage in 2001 after making an unexpected appearance with the Sierra Leonean national team at the age of 17. The match led to a deluge of offers for Wobay, who eventually signed with the Cypriot team, Onisilos Sotira. After spending the better part of the next decade playing professionally in Cyprus and Romania, Wobay signed a contract in 2010 with Khazar Lankaran in Azerbaijan’s Premiere League.

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Taken by the country’s efforts to position itself as a development hub for rising professional footballers worldwide – with more Latin American, African and Central European footballers joining the league each year – Wobay headed with high hopes to Azerbaijan, where he has now played for several seasons, most recently with Neftchi Baku. And his performance there is again attracting the eye of international scouts.

But despite his all-star status as an African football phenom, Sierra Leone is never far from his mind.

Sierra Leone Times met up with Wobay in Baku this week to talk about Sierra Leonean footballers, their prospects in European leagues, and the one piece of advice he would give to his country’s aspiring young players.

Sierra Leone Times: What factors made you stand out and allowed you to become involved in European football?

Julius Wobay: I worked hard to get into this position today. We have a lot of talent and potential, but our players don’t have the opportunity to migrate most of the time. I was lucky to have the chance to play in 2001 for the Sierra Leonean national team against Nigeria when I was 17. The match gave me the exposure to be noticed by a Cypriot club, where I eventually got recruited. We have a lot of players that can make it. All they need is exposure.

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Sierra Leone Times: Based on your experience in Azerbaijan and Europe, what recommendations would you give to young, aspiring footballers from Sierra Leone?

Julius Wobay: Work hard, concentrate and always give 100 percent. The philosophy and the approach are to give 100 percent always because that is the only way you can achieve your dreams.

 

 

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