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Sunday, 16 June, 2002, 21:59 GMT 22:59 UK
Senegal hails hero Camara
Fans carrying the national flag run through Dakar after Sunday's game against Sweden
Jubilant fans ran wild through the streets of Dakar

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Henri Camara, Senegal's Golden Goal hero against Sweden, is now a national hero in his home country.

But Camara's uncle, Seydou Ndiaye says it wasn't always like that.

Relaxing in the living-room of Henri Camara's family house in Dakar after a long day's celebration, Ndiaye remembers his nephew's temporary fall from grace.

"Henri has had his share of setbacks," Ndiaye emphasises.

"He is a sentimental sort of person, sensitive to criticism and there are times when he felt the public had turned against him".

Positive influence

Ndiaye cites in particular Camara's difficult time at the African Cup of Nations in February.

Senegalese fans in Dakar
Monday will be claimed as a public holiday
"Henri missed a couple of goal-scoring opportunities and the fans weren't going to forgive him quickly. The Senegalese can be like that. They are very passionate, very attached to their team, but not easy".

Coach Bruno Metsu has hinted in the past that Camara needs to be nurtured, that he makes more phone calls to the striker than other players.

Ndiaye regards Metsu as an extremely positive influence.

"This is a coach who knows how to be a real friend to players. He knows how to dig deep into their psyches and get the best out of them."

Open Quote
He's got a special African feeling about the way he plays. It's difficult to explain, but you can see he's got a lot of experience of African football Here
Close Quote
Senegalese musician Youssou N'Dour on Camara
Ndiaye says Camara's qualities were always apparent.

Like Senegal's other World Cup goal scoring hero, Pape Bouba Diop, Camara started out at Dakar club side A S Diaraf before moving to France.

"He's always been known in Senegal and he has given people a lot of satisfaction over the years," Ndiaye said.

"In this tournament I knew his day would come. It might be in the group matches, it might be later, but he loves football more than anything else and it was bound to happen".

Riotous celebrations

Senegalese musician Youssou N'Dour is a big fan of the striker.

People watching the game on a TV is a Dakar shop
The nation rejoiced at the winning goal
"He's got a special African feeling about the way he plays. It's difficult to explain, but you can see he's got a lot of experience of African football."

Camara's second goal crushed Sweden and set Dakar off on a day of riotous celebration.

The focal point of the festivities was again the presidential palace, with thousands of fans pushing themselves up against the railings.

President Abdoulaye Wade came out to greet the crowds, just as he had done against France two weeks ago.

The streets of Dakar were taken over by green, red and yellow convoys.

Motorbikes, cars and ordinary bicycles were covered in flags, banners and ribbons bearing the national colours.

Once again, state television abandoned its normal programming and simply ran interviews with supporters and endless footage of the crowds converging on the city centre.

Post-match analysis

As the initial excitement waned, the tooting of car horns gave way to the familiar sounds of children's football matches.

Asked for post-match analyses, fans who had already screamed themselves hoarse kept shouting Camara's name, adding time and again "the World Cup is coming to Senegal".

"I'm normally a Fadiga fan," said 17-year-old drama student Rosalie Ndiaye. "But today Henri Camara showed us what he was made of."

Fellow supporter Ousmane Sarr agrees.

"He is somebody special, somebody who maybe needs a bit of reassurance. But we have every confidence in him. He is someone who can go on to be even better. He really showed that against Sweden".


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"One shopkeeper said I almost want to cry"
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GROUP A
  P GD PTS
DENMARK 3 +3 7
SENEGAL 3 +1 5
URUGUAY 3 -1 2
FRANCE 3 -3 1

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