Saturday, 19 September 2009 00:55
The Story of a Legend as never been told
A GamSports Online Exclusive
Alhaji Momodou Njie, aka Biri Biri, Alhaji Mada, Pele la Gambie, Magji, you name it, was born second son of Alhaji Momodou Ngoose Njie and Ajaratou Sainabou Njie both of blessed memory from Perseverance Street in Banjul Central.
He attended school at the Albion Primary School and St Mary's Primary School at Leman Street in Banjul before proceeding to Crab Island Secondary School where the might in the star was revealed. He became an instant sensation in the school's football team for which He will become captain at the tender age of about fifteen years.
While in school, Biri was heavily recruited by many Association football teams but he would later choose the Black Stars football Club in 1963. Following a stint with the latter, he proceeded to Black Diamonds and immediately established himself as a superstar and teams continued to vie for his services. One veteran contacted for this piece had this to say: 'Biri became an instant hit in the FA and top giants in the league at the time were all out to get this complete talent." He later played for White Phantoms and then onto Augustinians under the watchful eye of the late Koto Louis Kajack Prom before finally moving on with some other players to establish what is today Wallidan Football Club in 1968/69.
In 1963, Biri became the youngest player to ever play for The Gambia in what today is still remembered as the last time The Gambia beat Senegal by three goals to two with all three goals emanating from the football prodigy, Biri Biri. He also played on loan in Sierra Leone and in the early seventies through the assistance of the late Alhaji Matarr Sarr became one of the first Africans to test the professional terrain with Derby County of England.
He proceeded to Denmark where he played for B1901 and Herfolge before proceeding to Spain to suit up for European powerhouse Servilla where to this day he is by far one of the most popular people and well respected. He led Servilla to its only FA Cup appearance in the 70's. He is still remembered for one of his brilliant gravity defying goals against Spanish national goalkeeper at the time, Arconada. His twenty six goals during his four year career with Servilla still stands atop in the record books for their all time foreign legion of players. He retired from professional football in 1981 and returned to his 'first love' Wallidan where he continued to play until his retirement in 1986.
Biri played for The Gambia National team through 1986, by far the most caps in Gambian history if not Africa as a whole. Many a times, Biri had answered to national duty at his own expense and left every ounce of Gambian blood and sweat on that field. There is no single team in our sub region that did not specifically map out strategies to defend Biri back in the day. Despite the hard tactics that were employed both locally and internationally, Alhaji Momodou Njie is and will be the greatest that ever wore the Red, White and Blue and there is or will never be a debate on that. One thing is certain, had accurate records been kept on his prolific career his goals could have numbered a thousand or closer to be precise.
Alhaji Momodou Njie is the double recipient of two National Awards of The Gambia by both
Republics in appreciation and recognition for his great services to The Gambia. His services to say the least are unmatched and will stay that way.
His successor at Servilla, the great Diego Armando Maradona, current Argentine national Coach called Biri "THE GREATEST" based on tapes He saw on arrival in Servilla. Then Maradona told Biri that he will never be able to undo his feat at Servilla and you bet, he never did. To this date the name Biri continues to ring in Servilla with its fan club named "NORTE BIRI BIRI." According to the official website of the team, 'BIRI'S - The most loyal fans of the team (those who sit at the lower section of the north end of the stadium) call themselves Biris. They got the name from Alhaji Momodou Njie who was nicknamed Biri. Alhaji, a Gambian player known for his intensity and mercurial nature, was so popular with the Servilla fans that the most loyal fans named their cheering sections (and thus, themselves) after him." It does not stop at that, in 2004, the city selected him for the name of their stadium to the disappointment of many corporate sponsors.
True to his nature, the kindest man there is. While playing in Europe, Biri paved the way for a number of players, a couple of them played with him and others starred with other teams. He opened the doors of his house on a daily basis to many people some of whom he did not even know like that, but he would always say, "the world is about sharing." Indeed he shared his little with everyone and just loved being around people. That is Biri Biri, aside from football heroics, beyond generous. (I am proud to say I dealt with him up close and spent most of my youth life with him on a daily basis).
As the great Saul Njie once put it, "If you watch him, you think he defies gravity; Biri is The Gambia's Soccer Ambassador and he is the greatest ever there will be." Yes those of us who had the honour of watching him wreck defences and score the most of impossible goals can attest to the fact without any exaggeration, that Biri will stay in a class of his own. Indeed the greatest, Gaindeh Njie..Pele La Gambie.
Thank you for your services to our country. Truly you deserve more.
Sources for this article;
Zone 11 Cabral daily, February 1985
Now that it is known that Biri has been honoured with a stadium named after him in his home away from home, we hope soon our Sports Authorities will look into a request that was made many years ago as far back as February 1982 when football fans requested that the national stadium in Bakau be named after him.
Effectively there was a valid argument that he was an active player and that made sense, well he retired in 1986, maybe we can take a cue from the Servilla Council of Elders and honour our own hero. It will indeed be a fitting national tribute to the man that has left us with long lasting memories for generations to come.
Please reach out to your National Assembly members to sponsor a bill that will change the name of our stadium from Independence Stadium to ALHAJI MOMODOU BIRI NJIE SPORTS COMPLEX. Gam Sports Online can say today, that bill will pass resoundingly and we are proud to say WE ARE THE FIRST TO LEAD THIS CRUSADE! Coming soon we will profile every member of The Gambian national squad that lost to Senegal one nil in 1980. (Baboucarr Saho, Francis Commy Owens, Ibrahima Garba Touray, Lamin Owens, Baboucarr Bah Edakarr, Baboucarr Sowe (Laos), Abdoulie Star Jallow, Sereign Saihou Sarr, Alagie Njie Biri Biri, Tony Joiner and Momodou Musa .Keep it here at www.gamsports.com, the only authority of Gambian sports history.
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onday, 14 September 2009 20:43
By lamin Cham
Following the series of interviews and our coverage of Gambian soccer, many of our readers have written back and asked that we do a feature of the greatest that ever played in Gambia, Alhagi Njie Biri Biri. In the course of our research we found that a stadium was named after Biri in Serville, Spain in 2004. This actually is big news in the sense that we are yet to know of any former professional football player accorded this unique and prestigious honour. Biri Biri played a couple of years for Serville and led them to an FA Cup final. In this city, where the Serville Fan Club is named for Biri Biri, the Icon is still revered. Like Boy Corr once told me after a visit to Spain, "Biri is King in Spain." To cap it off, we also want our readership to know this, never once reported anywhere but only at www.gamsports.com, "BIRI BIRI ONCE BEAT THE MAYOR OF SERVILLE IN THE MOST POPULAR PERSON CONTEST."
The piece below is from the official website of Serville.
The Executive Council of the Governing Board of Elders for the much anticipated 2004 Big Flickabout have unveiled the name of the marvelous host stadium currently nearing completion. Much speculation as to the corporate sponsor has circulated of late, including the leading theory that pet store giant Petco would, capitalizing on their naming rights for San Diego's new baseball park, seize the opportunity to have their name emblazoned on the impressive edifice. In a stunning turn around, however, the Council announced that the new subbuteo-only stadium will bear the name - Estadio Alhaji Mohomodo Nije 'Biri Biri'.
Nije, the "Black Pearl of the Sanchez Pizjuan," aka Biri Biri, remains the most popular player in the history of the Sevilla FC. Obtained from club 1901 of Denmark for the 1973-74 season, he went on to four brilliant campaigns for Sevilla, playing 91 league matches, netting 26 goals, and carrying Sevilla back to its rightful place in the first division. The Gambian forward, the first and only black African to ever suit up for Sevilla, dazzled fans and opponents alike with his slashing, gravity-defying moves.
Biri Biri, as El Sevillismo took to calling him, developed a following unlike any player in club history, leading to the founding of the Brigadas Norte Biri Biri, now known as the Biris Norte.
The Biris Norte, a band of hyper-violent Ultras, are described on the club web page as "The pride of El Sevillismo and of the club itself."
Editors' note: This article is culled straight from the Serville club website.
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