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Interview: Ansan Greeners' Seku Conneh

Interview: Ansan Greeners' Liberian International Striker Seku Conneh
There are many great stories of people rising to the top in adversity, and football has had more than its fair share. Ansan Greeners' Seku Conneh adds to that pantheon of stars in an industry that demands extreme mental toughness to survive. Last week on, behalf of K League United, Ansan Foreign Supporters Club had a chance to sit down with the club's newest import, Liberian international Seku Conneh.
(Image via Ansan Greeners)

Born in Liberia, Conneh moved with his parents to the Netherlands at a young age, and his talents as a footballer were noticed early as he became a student at the famous Ajax academy. He was a sought after young talent, with PSV Eindhoven and Utrecht also suitors. Seku described to us how his early success led to a "bad boy" attitude that eventually saw him moved on from Amsterdam, not as a result of his potential, but on account of his attitude. This led to a nomadic footballing youth, including stints at Jupiler League (second tier) side RKC Waalwijk and Hoofdklasse (fifth tier) outfit USV Elinkwijk.

However things would turn around for Conneh after joining Jupiler League team Almere City and coming under the tutelage of Peter van Vossen (who equalised for Holland at Wembley in 1993, a World Cup Qualifying Campaign England fans will remember). Despite being offered a contract, Seku's ambitions were to play first team football, a decision that would lead him to follow van Vossel to Fortuna Sittard were he would play 40 games including appearances in the Dutch Cup, grabbing nine goals for the club. He then moved to FC Oss, where despite getting on the score sheet again, personal circumstances again affected the young player, and under the guidance of van Vossen, he moved to the US to get away from the domestic intrusions that were impacting on his career.

He made an impact playing for Bethlehem Steel in the United Soccer League in the US. Being an affiliation of MLS team Philadelphia Union, Seku had hopes to make the move into the top tier side. However, despite bagging a dozen goals, the chance to step up did not materialise. Enter "agent Park" who got in touch with Conneh and introduced him to Ansan Greeners. At just 22 years of age, Conneh has had a career more befitting a player ten years his senior already, and it is just this that makes him such an exciting acquisition for Greeners fans.

Seku Conneh with Ansan Greeners Columnist Mike Brandon
Conneh has three caps for Liberia but had originally hoped to represent the country where he was raised - the Netherlands. But after a call-up by the Liberian side for an African Cup of Nations Qualifier, he admits that the competition for a Dutch call-up was fierce, and opted to represent his country of birth. Again, it is this level-headedness that is so impressive in such a young player, and demonstrates again how adversity can produce people of great inner strength.

In his first cap he faced off against former Arsenal and Manchester City Striker Emmanuel Adebayor, whom he recalls giving him great words of encouragement after the match. He also featured in a World Cup Qualifier against the Ivory Coast and picks out Gervinho as the best player he has ever come up against.

Conneh also gave us a highlight from Liberian and AC Milan legend George Weah, when quizzed about the legendary striker's rise to the Liberian Presidency. The Ballon D'or winner told him: "Never say never." Choice words to a player whose career has involved taking big chances to find success. As for the highlight of his career, Conneh tells us that it is "still to come," and we hope that that entails silverware for Ansan, as this young players star continues to rise.

Seku Conneh with Ansan Foreign Supporters Group member James Walsh

AFSC thanks Seku Conneh for an honest and insightful interview and Ikjin Kwon for working so closely with AFSC.

The full interview, with AFSC's James Walsh asking the questions can be viewed below or by clicking here.

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