In recent years, African footballers have made entries into European football. The effect of pioneers Samuel Eto (Barcelona) Didier Drogba (Chelsea) and currently Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), among others at Europe’s elite clubs is pronounced.
Diade Samassekou is staring into that path. At Bundesliga side TSG Hoffenheim, the Mali international has been climbing to touch those heights since joining the German side in 2019.
Arriving from FC Red Bull Salzburg, Austria where he had won 5 major trophies, the 26-year-old signed up for a new challenge at the club that dates back to 1899.
True to his ambition, Samassekou’s fine touch and passing have been a breath of fresh air for the league. The soft-spoken holding Midfielder in a zoom interview organized by German Football League, DFL, explains the enterprise needed for the European game:
“The goal is to be consistent; I think each player will like to do this but you have to give yourself the opportunity and possibility to do it that’s why I work hard every day.
“In Salzburg, I did well, when I came to Hoffenheim, the first season wasn’t good and now am really doing well.”
His ambitions notwithstanding, team ethos comes to the fore he adds, “I hope I can continue to do good but, in the end, the goals of the team are more important.”
The 2017 Mali Player of the year needed to adapt to the lofty standards of the European game:
“The pitches are different, so you can’t play the same football. Here it’s professional and you can’t compare it to where I come from.
Samassekou continues to juggle the cocktail of philosophies in his football career, “For example, when I play for my national team in Africa, the game is more intense and not so tactical, so sometimes you just run but in the end, you don’t know where to go.”
The difference here is they tell you what they want you to do and you have to be responsible and show your qualities “
For many African players, developing a thick skin is necessary to overcome racism attacks. Samassekou has nonetheless been fortunate, “Honestly I have never experienced racism. Not in Austria, not in Germany. I think here and Austria, the fans know football is just a sport and has nothing to do with colour. However, we can always do more to stop racism.”
In the 2021-2022 season, the holding midfielder has featured 23 times and found the back of the net on two occasions. The first of his strikes arrived in November 2021 in a 2-0 win over RB Leipzig. He hopes that can unlock the floodgates for more. Europe awaits with eagerness this blossoming talent