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Glen Kamara: 5 Facts About Finland’s Discreet Yet Dangerous Asset

Finnish mid-fielder Glen Kamara was born in Tampere, Finland, to Sierra Leonean parents who fled the civil war. He is one of the many players of this Euro to have followed a “not very academic” career plan. Having made his ball debut on the frozen Finnish grounds, at OT-77, and at the Espoo club, he left the far north for England at a very young age. At 12, he left behind him the quiet district of Soukka, in the suburbs of Espoo (290,000 inhabitants) not far from Helsinki, to join London with his mother. He, therefore, continued his training at Southend United, a third-division club at the time, in 2010 at the age of 15. In this article, we explore his life since his youth. 

Glen Kamara: 5 Important Events About His Life That Are Worth Knowing! 

1. From Finland To England:

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Kamara acclimatizes quickly and is spotted by Arsenal, while he evolves in U18. In 2012, he, therefore, realized one of these dreams: to play for the Gunners, where his idol Thierry Henry shone. Because if we know him today as a very good central midfielder, Glen Kamara then played more as a striker, hence his love for Titi. Arriving at the young Londoners, he was quickly replaced in midfield and he went through all the stages until he got a place in the U21 squad. 

This is where the troubles began. In 2014, while still playing in the Arsenal Academy, Glen Kamara was entitled to 90 minutes on the first team substitute bench, against Galatasaray, in the Champions League. In October 2015, the day before his twentieth birthday, he made his one and only appearance in the red tunic, against Sheffield Wednesday FC, in the 4th round of the League Cup. A match lost 3-0, where he starts as a starter but leaves on the hour mark. After that, we will hardly see him play for Arsenal again. The London club sent him on loan to Southend United until the end of the season, then loaned him back to Colchester United. He only played six matches there and when he returned to the club, Arsenal put him on the transfer market.

2. From England to Scotland:

Deemed too frail, Glen Kamara will have to go and hone his skills elsewhere, yet so close to a London dream. Glen bounces back in Dundee, in the Scottish Championship. At 22, his career took a new turn. Although his club is experiencing many difficulties (sporting and economic), he shines in the midfield and his first Scottish season is a resounding success: 46 matches played in all competitions, and two assists. The following season, he struggled to confirm, while his club rushed dangerously towards the relegation zone. 18 small matches, but three assists. Statistics more to his advantage, which will not go unnoticed at a time when Dundee is sinking. Glen Kamara receives the call from a juggernaut of Scottish football and a certain Steven Gerrard. 

3. Under English manager Steven Gerrard, Glen Kamara grew successful: 

“I’m on the verge of saying he’s the best player in the team right now,” Janne Oivio, a sports journalist once commented. And for good reason. 

Kamara once contributed to the almost perfect season (32 v-6 n) for Rangers who won their first Scottish league title under Steven Gerrard since 2011.

The complete central midfielder that we know today, a key element of the Finnish selection which is experiencing the first Euro in its history, owes a lot to one man: Steven Gerrard. Renowned for his excellent passing game, his good reading of the game but also his great ability to defend, it was under the orders of the legend of the Reds that he learned. 

Arriving at Glasgow Rangers from Dundee in January 2019 for a pittance, he greatly contributed to the league title won by the Scottish club this season. His price is also a running gag for local supporters, who call him ” 50 Grand ” (50,000 pounds). Bringing other registers to his game, he turned into a scorer twice this season, including once against Benfica in the Europa League. More skilled in small spaces, winning more duels and making his experience speak for himself to remain calm in all circumstances, Glen Kamara was gaining momentum with the Rangers and becoming a ” key player ” in the Finnish selection, according to the Finnish football manager, Markku Kanerva. 

Steven Gerrard does not hesitate either to praise the work and the progress of the player, saying: 

“Glen has integrated very well. He is a well brought up boy who wants to learn and who wants to work. You still have to pinch yourself sometimes to understand how we got it and where it was, with all due respect. He was out of Dundee’s 11, he wasn’t playing and he was at the end of his contract. It is very rare to recruit someone of his quality under these conditions”. 

Since they evolve in the same position, Steven Gerrard can all the more help his little protege, always listening. 

“He helped us all collectively and he also really helped me individually,” explained Glen Kamara at a press conference. He makes me work on certain specific aspects of training and wants me to express myself more, to influence the game and to have more confidence in myself”. 

4. He became an Anti-Racism icon without campaigning for it:

If his eventful career has nevertheless allowed him to put his name in European football, there is an episode that Glen Kamara would have done well without. For Kamara, the 2020-21 season was marred by an evening in March that he will probably never forget: the player, born in Finland to Sierra Leonean parents, was the target of a racist insult by the Czech Ondrej Kudela during the Europa League game Tangers-Slavia Prague.

During the round of 16 second leg of the Europa League against Slavia Prague, he was insulted by Ondrej Kudela. 

“He approached me and said: ‘You’re a monkey, you’re a fucking monkey and you know you are,’ ” he testified on the show called ITV. 

Kudela was suspended for ten matches due to “racist behavior” and deprived of the Euro while Glen Kamara said he felt humiliated adding that he had since been the “daily” target of racist insults online.

Disillusioned, he seems helpless in the face of these waves of insults he faces: “ It is very difficult because some people will never experience racism in their lives. They will never know what it does. Unfortunately, many people have and will experience it”. 

5. He recalled his racist experiences in his past:

A vicious circle that he seems to have suffered from a very young age, he, the black child has grown up in the white suburb of Espoo.

“Unconscious” but “daily” acts of racism, Glen once spoke to a Finnish newspaper about the incidents of his past. 

The victim of a scourge that we should no longer talk about in 2021, he recounts the scenes of his childhood: “When a person sees me on the sidewalk and crosses to the other side of the street or when I go to the store and everything suddenly a security guard is watching me all the time…it comes from somewhere in the way we are brought up. What you see and hear. It’s hard to forget what you’ve learned. It’s a cycle that needs to be broken”.

Usually very discreet, he decides to take the floor to discuss these taboos of Nordic society and hopes to be able to move things forward. “No one hopes to be a victim of such treatment, but I am proud to have been able to raise awareness of racism in sport, ” he says. 

“I’m not a very public person and I don’t make a fuss about myself, but overall I’m happy with what came out of it. “ I feel like I need to tell my story – the online messages I’ve received, the racial abuse online,” he added. 

“I feel like a victim, it needs to be said. “However, from the height of his 25 years, he remains pessimistic, despite certain realizations: “It’s a difficult subject, because if I could change something, I would. But I’m afraid that in our lifetime we won’t see big changes”, he concluded in sadness. 

For his part, Glen Kamara continues to fight on and off the field. And in their own way, so did Glasgow Rangers as the team announced that they will not tolerate the alleged racist insult by the Slavia Prague players. 

Statements made by Steven Gerrard, the Rangers manager, assured that no one believes Slavia Prague lying that Kudel’s insult was not racist. Rangers, through their sports director, Stewart Robertson, confirmed that they will not tolerate these events and that they will not accept that what happened is denied.

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