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Alexander Isak: The wonder kid with an Eritrean connection

Eritreans Henok Goitom & Alexander Isak @ practice for AIK.

With time flying by and the conclusion of the 2016 Swedish premier league season, the big buzz in Europe these days is where the whiz kid born to Eritrean parents will end up transitioning into the next phase of his career. In order to understand the importance of his story, let us pause for a second and find out more about this new and young phenomena known as Alexander Isak.

It should be recalled that just a couple of weeks ago another up and coming Eritrean athlete surprised the world as the youngest New York City Marathon champion in the history of the event. While this event has been around for a long time, the amazing accomplishment by Girmay Ghebreslassie put Eritrea on the spotlight as he did in Beijing after winning the IAAF marathon. How can anyone forget the success that Daniel Teklehaimanot had when participating and winning a stage at the Tour De France. Add to that the world record holder and only Olympic medal holder for Eritrea, Zeresenay Tadesse's amazing career in the half marathon as well as the 2015 player of the year award in Sweden by Eritrean national soccer team and current San Jose Earthquakes star Henok Goitom. As we speak today Cyclists, runners, soccer players and sporadically other athletes with Eritrean roots in different sports are starting to flourish at an amazing rate. Each time Eritrea's martyrs turn in their graves, they are looking back at the sacrifices made for this generation that is starting to make progress at the world stage where Eritrea has always belonged. What are chances of a teenager from any nationality being sought after by 90 soccer clubs at one soccer game? Then more teams showed up about 120 of them sending their scouts to look at this ERITREAN youngster who has taken the soccer world by storm. Those martyrs are really talking and saying that we are just now starting to expose the power that is ERITREA!

Getting to know Alexander Isak.

Alexander was born in Solna a suburb of Stockholm City in 1999 in the same place where another great Eritrean Henok Goitom was born in. Alexander has been with AIK since the age of six and has risen through the ranks, training with the senior squad for the first-time two years ago. While Sweden provided him with many opportunities to be good, the work ethics came from his Eritrean roots. It is important to note that with his parents and the strong Eritrean community in Sweden as a support system he picked up a lot of the positive attitudes by witnessing the good moral values of the Eritrean culture. One of his coaches between the ages of 9-13 was also an Eritrean whose great contributions to AIK Stockholm has paid dividends. We spoke to coach Nahom Ghidey who always knew that Alexander had the potential to become something big. In such a short period of time within his first professional contract since May of this year, he has scored 11 times including some game winning goals for AIK.

The Drive, the work ethic, the maturity: The Eritrean way.

Every athlete has an inspiration and some body that they look up to and Alexander is no different. He mentions in interviews that he looks up to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whom the blogger had the pleasure of spending two weeks when the legend signed a contract with PSG in 2012. Witnessing him first hand during training periods at Princeton University in New Jersey and getting to interview Ibrahimovic, there is no doubt that he will go down as one of the best soccer players in the world. So like most young people and players around the world Alexander's choice as one of his role models is not a bad one considering that he is being compared to Zlatan by many. However, his real role model is 32-year-old Henok Goitom, of the San Jose Earthquakes who shares the Eritrean roots with him. The families of both players are friends and Henok has been more than impressed with his young protege that seems to be doing wonders at a very young age.

Eri-International sports blog would like to strongly emphasize that the reason this blog was established more than 9 years ago was to inspire and share stories that can benefit the Eritrean-diaspora community as well as anyone who is inspired by the athletic prowess of Eritrean and African origin athletes. A Nigerian team mate of Alexander Isak who won an Olympic medal describes him as "Thoughtful" when talking about the maturity level of Alexander. During a question and answer session with Swedish Media AIK team mate Chinedu Obasi who has also been playing incredibly well said this of Alexander based on his achievements on and off the field.

“His performance is like boxing in the ring. All predictions are based on performances in the ring, and Alexander’s accomplishments on the field speak for themselves,” Obasi told Swedish newspaper Expressen after the Djurgardens game - the same day as Isak’s 17th birthday. He went on to add, “Moreover, he is a nice person. I hope he continues to keep his cool and fight on. Then he can go far,” the Nigerian international and Olympic bronze medalist added.

Considering that Eritrea is only 25 years old the combination of diaspora kids and Eritrean youth seem to be doing wonders in the international sports arena. Sports or Athletics in general is a good way to make yourself a better person and Eri-International sports will document many more future athletes while also looking back at previous Eritreans who have inspired many but whose stories have not been told to the masses. Alexander Isak is a reincarnation of some of the great Eritrean soccer players who were way ahead of their time but because of the political situation within the horn of Africa, their abilities and skills were never noticed on the international scene. Some even decided to forego their careers to make sure Eritrea became INDEPENDENT! and paid with their lives.

Where will Alexander Isak end up?

With so many teams looking at Alexander at the moment it is going to be tough to predict which team will have him. The one main factor is who is willing to forge up the 14-16 million British pounds that his current team AIK is asking for. This price will be the highest paid for any player in the history of Swedish Soccer, add to that the fact that he was the youngest player to ever score in the Swedish premier league and history has already been made. The Eritrean humbleness in him can be seen each time he is all over the media on and off the field. Isak is well aware of the interest in his services that has been bubbling away for months, although his commitment right now seems to be with AIK and not a European giant until 2018. For soccer fans all over the world whichever team he plays for he is destined to be the next big star. At the moment the teams that are really putting up big fights to acquire his services are Paris St. Germain, Liverpool, Manchester United, Napoli, Juventus, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Ajax, Real Madrid, Barcelona based on some of the latest news we have been following. However, it is very difficult to figure out where he will end up. Negotiations have been on going and AIK Stockholm will be milking the price as far as they can go. The recently turned 17 year-old is the talk of the soccer world. Even Zlatan Ibrahimovic whom he is compared to has been known to follow his games and has been advocating for his teams (Juventus, Paris St. Germain, Ajax & now Manchester United) to grab him at any cost. For example, according to Italian media, Qatari Nasser Al-Khelafi owner of PSG has offered 10 million pounds for his transfer but that amount was short of the amount that his Swedish club want even though it would surpass the most amount of money spent for Ibrahimovic's transfer when he was traded from Malmo during his heyday in Sweden. AIK will not settle down for any lower than between 15 & 16 million pounds to even initiate any negotiations while Liverpool have submitted a contract for Alexander which also has been compared to some of the biggest transfers in Europe.

In a recent interview about Alexander, his Eritrean hero Henok Goitom had this to say about Alexander, "If you educate Alexander Isak, in a good way, he can have a big future. He already has a good understanding of the game." For millions of fans including soccer fans in Eritrea who are obsessed with the British Premier league Sunday mornings may start to become exciting as they watch one of their own on the big screens should any of the Premier league end up with him. Even if he goes to any of the other teams the bottom line is Alexander Isak has made Eritrea proud even if it was through Sweden. It is also to be noted that Alexander is on the list of this year's Swedish choice for the rookie of the year in the Allsvenskan (Swedish Premier League). Eri-International Sports blog will continue to inform you on the choice he makes and will attempt to follow his career where ever he ends up. Meanwhile, it's time to rejoice as the Eritrean sports talents are popping up everywhere and making this nation of heroic people proud. No matter what Eritrea will prevail through sports, education, Science, medicine, Technology, music, film, entertainment etc.......

For Eri-International Sports Blog.

Mike Seium

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Alexander Isak: The wonder kid with an Eritrean connection Reviewed by Admin on 12:02 AM Rating: 5

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