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From A Hammer To A Shark: The Story (So Far) Of Savio Nsereko

January 23, 2011

Who’d have thought that just 2 1/2 years on from being voted the player of the tournament in the 2008 European Under-19 Championship, Savio Nsereko would be preparing for his debut for the Sharks of Burgas, otherwise known as PSFC Chernomorets. One of the less popularised signings of the transfer window, Nsereko is albeit on loan to the Bulgarian side from Serie A strugglers Fiorentina. Chernomorets are indeed a progressive club (they picked up an accolade saying as such last year) and are currently in 3rd place in the Bulgarian top flight. Should they remain there for the rest of the season, they will qualify for Europe, the 2nd Qualifying Round of the Europa League to be precise. For Nsereko, it serves the opportunity to get some much needed game time and an opportunity to impress those back in Florence. He himself doesn’t see it as a step back as “sometimes you have to do something different if you are to achieve that much”. To the public eye he retains confidence stating, “At the end of the season you will see that my coming here was good for my career”. Naturally, his first press conference for a new club was not going to be filled with negativity with Nsereko touching on not being in the best physical condition only to quickly state he would be ready come Chernomorets’s next game.

Rising star: Nsereko at Brescia

The Ugandan-born winger-come-striker moved to Germany at a young age and it could be argued that the bulk of the hype surrounding him was due to his performances representing his adopted homeland rather than at club level. His club career started at 1860 Munich though he was snapped up at the age of 16 by Italian Serie B side Brescia. Gianluca Nani, a man who would gain more importance later down the line, scouted the youngster and felt that he had unearthed a gem, hailing him as “possibly the next big thing”. He made his debut for Brescia in the final game of that season (2005-2006). His star was well and truly in the ascendency following the 2008 European under-19 championship (he did indeed miss the final due to suspension) with interest from a number of suitors, mainly at that time a fair few Bundesliga clubs and a smattering of Serie A sides. However, a move from Brescia did not materialise for another 6 months when in January 2009, he was signed once again on the recommendation of Gianluca Nani by West Ham United in which Nani was now Director of Football. The fee, reported as undisclosed at the time, turned out to be in the region of £9 million, a new transfer record for the East London club. He was seen as the ideal replacement for the recently departed Craig Bellamy who had moved on to Manchester City, and to confirm as such was given the number 10 shirt that Bellamy had vacated. West Ham United announced his signing with claims they had beaten off interest from Inter and Bayern Munich to name two to land his signature, stating that they saw him as an “excellent prospect” and a “significant investment” who would become “a valuable asset for the club now and in years to come”. He wasn’t at Upton Park for even a year in truth. Nsereko would spend only 6 months there, only starting one match and coming off the bench in 10 matches. He had shown some of his undoubted ability (an impressive performance against Manchester City earned rave reviews from the Upton Park faithful) but in his words, he “didn’t fit in” and was sold back to Italy, this time to Fiorentina in a £5 million part exchange deal with Portuguese defender Manuel Da Costa going in the opposite direction.

A regular sight: on the bench at West Ham

Nsereko would spend 6 months at Fiorentina when, having failed to play any 1st team matches for his new club, he was loaned to fellow Serie A side Bologna in the January until the end of the season. This would be another disappointing spell for the Ugandan-German as while he’d feature for the 1st team, he only played 2 matches for the Rossoblu. For this, the 2010-11 season, Fiorentina agreed to send him out on loan again but this time it’d be of a more personal nature or so it seemed, to the club that he started with, German 2nd tier club 1860 Munich. This was hoped to be the rejuvenation for Savio but the loan deal was cancelled at the end of October when, after making 2 appearances for the Bavarian side, he was reported missing by the club. A week later, he was found at his sister’s home but this indiscipline was enough for 1860 Munich to terminate the agreement.

Now, Nsereko has another loan move to contend with. The hope is that indiscipline will not rear its ugly head again and that Savio can get back to his best with a productive spell at Chernomorets. The events that will unfold in the coming months will no doubt have an effect as to what his international future will be. Thanks to FIFA’s dual nationality regulations, he could turn his back on his adopted homeland in which he has arguably performed at his best, and instead play for the country of his birth, Uganda. Uganda have lobbied Nsereko repeatedly regarding this possibility but his decision is more than likely going to be greatly influenced by just what direction his club career is heading. He is only 21 so time is definitely on his side but opportunities can quickly dwindle as a lot of players before him have found out.

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