SPORTS

Tough Defender’s Football Journey

Mohammed Yusuf, the former Fijian footballer, had put in every bit of hard work for his once in a lifetime opportunity.
17 Apr 2020 13:45
Tough Defender’s Football Journey
Mohammed Yusuf. Photo: Asuad Ali

Every footballer’s dream is to play at the professional level. It can come in the way of opportunity and hard work. And when it serves, that dream could turn into a reality.

Mohammed Yusuf, the former Fijian footballer, had put in every bit of hard work for his once in a lifetime opportunity.

Everything was going swimmingly until a serious knee injury shelved his dream.

In 1999, the lanky player was given a tryout on the behest of Vancouver Whitecaps star Ivor Evans with the Vancouver Whitecaps, the professional football team in Vancouver.

ATTRACTION

Yusuf turned heads in a series of exhibition games, he was getting noticed.

In his last scrummage against the Metro FC Allstars, made up of British Columbia’s premier league players at the Queens Park Stadium, both the club president Bobby Lenardussi and coach Carl Valentine revealed how impressed they were with the man with very few words.

Bobby said, Yusuf’s of a quiet nature but steady in defense, had a vision and that he fitted in well the team.

Head coach Carl Valentine liked what they saw in the player.

But as it turned out, in the weeks ahead and very few will attest is Yusuf suffered a serious injury during a Sunday pickup game, where he tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on his left knee.

He was evaluated by doctors and was advised to go for surgery, the news couldn’t have been any worse.

POSITIVES

“Injury didn’t only hurt, it hurt my career for good value”, he recalled.

“I drew a lot of positives though out of the tryout, it sure was the opportunity of my lifetime. It was never meant to be”.

He said he owes Ivor gratitude for helping him with the tryout adding, had he not got hurt he would have seen some game time.

Yusuf said he was completely taken aback when he was reminded about his tryout some two decades on.

FOREVER CHERISH

“If you, Sportsone had not mentioned I wouldn’t have remembered, seriously.

“21 years is a long time”.

Yusuf said the one-off opportunity is something he will forever cherish, yet with his nature he doesn’t seek any fame.

And had he not been injury unlucky, he would’ve been second only to Ivor to play for the Vancouver Whitecaps.

“It’s all about the fate and how it plays out”.

JOURNEY

The Labasa born footballer made his district debut for Rewa in 1988, later moved to Suva where he won the 1995 B.O.G and represented the national team for several years.

He was a part of the 1991 South Pacific Games gold medal winning team in Lae, Papua New Guinea, and the Melanesian Cup in 1992.

Yusuf migrated to Vancouver, Canada in 1996 and is a successful businessman.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj

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