Nicolas Jackson shares emotional life story: I was a number 10

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Chelsea striker Nicolas Jackson has given his career story when he used to play football back in Gambia.

It was at 16 years old that Jackson moved to Ziguinchor, Senegal. He joined local side ASC Tilene, his first club and his first experience of organised football. It was a decision that set him on.

Jackson established himself in the Casa first-team squad during the 2018/19 season. Soon came approaches from Europe and in September 2019, he completed a move to La Liga side Villarreal.

After a year at Villarreal, Jackson joined Spanish second-tier side Mirandes. It was an important experience. Injuries had to be overcome, form had to be found, and minutes had to be earned.

“It was my dream from when I was young to play in the Premier League and now I’m here,” he says matter-of-factly. “People may not understand but it feels normal to me. I always believed in myself.

“Ever since I was young, I wanted to be a football player,” explains the 22-year- old.

“But my family were more concerned with me going to school and you have to listen to your parents.

“I was always playing street football with friends, you know? It helped me a lot, gave me a lot freedom. I would watch other players and learn on the pitch. It was really nice, something I will always remember.

“My mentor – now my agent – found me there and took me to the first division in Senegal,” explains Jackson.

“He took me to Casa Sport. It was a little difficult but there was a coach [Badara Sarr] who believed in me.

“I was playing as a false striker or a number ten. When you’re younger, you want to be with the ball.”

“I had never been to Europe before,” recalls Jackson. “I remember I got there really late but the sun was still out! That was different.

“It was not always easy, you know? I was on my own. No family. Different language. Different food, which I didn’t like. But I was focused. I had my dream. So it was ok.”

“It took some time,” he accepts. “I’d never been in an Academy before, never had that kind of football. So I played for the Under-16s and then the Under-19s. I learned a lot.”