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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 September 2006, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK
Samba dancing again

Cherno Samba
There are not many players who would be surviving in the game if what happened to me had happened to them

Cherno Samba

Wonder-kids seldom grow up into superstars but Plymouth striker Cherno Samba is not giving up yet.

At Millwall six years ago, Samba - then 14 - was chased by Liverpool and Manchester United and his name was on the back of every tabloid newspaper in the country.

But the Lions rejected a 1.5m Liverpool bid and Samba's career at The Den did not take off as expected.

He eventually left to join Spanish side Cadiz in 2004 and spent last season on loan at Malaga's B team.

606 VIEW
Chris Bevan

Despite still being a regular in the England Under-20 team he was in danger of being football's forgotten man in the UK - until Pilgrims boss Ian Holloway signed him on transfer deadline day.

It has been a rollercoaster ride but Samba feels he has come out of it stronger.

"I had to grow up so fast and learn so quickly," Samba told BBC Sport.

"The stuff that happened to me with Liverpool came at such a young age but I dealt with it.

"I'm glad I have got good parents and people behind me who helped me - there are not many players who would be surviving in the game if what happened to me had happened to them.

"They were difficult times but I'm proud of how I conducted myself and to still be playing at a high level.

"I have always believed I had the ability to make it, it was just about getting my chance.

"The England call-ups were such a boost. In England youth coach Dick Bates I had a manager who always backed me and told me he knew what I could do.

"I can't thank him enough. Without him I don't think I would be playing football now because there were times I wanted to give up because of what happened in the past."

Samba does not look back on his time in Spain with any regrets but admits he is glad to be back in England.

If you look at what I did; I left Millwall to play in La Liga so it was not exactly a bad move - it is any kids dream

Cherno Samba

"It was a great experience to play in Spain. I learned my trade there and I am fluent in the language now - but being home is sweeter," Samba said.

"My family is here and my wife and baby too, so it was nice to come back.

"When she was pregnant last year she spent most of her time here so I was by myself in Spain for a long time. I was feeling homesick and hoping that a move might happen.

"I had two years left on my Cadiz contract but we got relegated and they wanted to get some players off their wage bill so I was able to come to Plymouth for free.

"It was definitely worthwhile going over there though. It made me a better player and a better person.

"It wasn't a case of relaunching my career. I left Millwall to play in La Liga so it was not exactly a bad move - it is any kids dream.

"Whether I was the forgotten man or not I don't know but things like that happen. My move to Liverpool did not go through so I had to knuckle down and get my career back on track."

And that is exactly what Samba feels he has done with his move to Home Park.

Ian Holloway knows how to get the best out of a player and I am sure that he will help me to improve my game and help me achieve what I want to

Cherno Samba

He is yet to make his Argyle debut but has travelled with the squad and is keen to make his first senior appearance in English football as soon as he can.

"This is a great opportunity for me and I want to pay Plymouth back," he explained. "I want to get into the first team as quickly as possible and start banging the goals in

"They have given me a chance and the players and the manager Ian Holloway have encouraged me - now I want to help them win promotion.

"Looking at our squad I think we can do it. We've got talent and experience and we encourage each other.

"Since I started playing football I have never ever met a man like the gaffer. He is unbelievable.

"He knows how to get the best out of a player and I am sure that he will help me to improve my game and help me achieve what I want to.

"I would love to stay in the England set-up so I will just have to do the business for Plymouth, work hard and hopefully get the reward."

SEE ALSO
Samba and Seip sign for Plymouth
31 Aug 06 |  Plymouth Argyle
Samba set for Lions bow
26 Feb 03 |  Millwall
Division One's rising stars
05 Aug 02 |  Eng Div 1
England kids bury German hoodoo
30 Apr 01 |  Football


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