Footballers plying their commerce overseas is nothing new, however have you ever heard about the one about the Slough teen pushing for promotion to the prime tier of Finland soccer?
Luqman Kassim was 19 when he acquired the call to go over to the Scandinavian nation on an journey that has seen him play for 3 golf equipment in the Finnish Football League, earn a Second Division winners medal and rating 80 targets throughout the Third and Fourth Divisions for Norrvalla FF.
Currently coming to the finish of the 2022 season, Kassim’s aspect Järvenpää Palloseura (JaPs) look effectively set to complete in the prime half of the desk earlier than the Second Division is break up in two, with the winners incomes computerized promotion to the Finnish Premier Division – one thing he achieved in 2021 with VPS.
Kassim revealed that his transfer to Finland again in 2019 got here a bit out of the blue: “I’d simply began at JD Sports,” he informed the Football in Berkshire web site.
“I acquired a call from my uncle who was with an agent I used to be speaking to the earlier yr. I had been with Aaron Steadman at Maidenhead United in the Under 23 and was set to maneuver throughout with him to Ascot United.
“The agent requested me what he might do for me, and mentioned he had a possibility to go to Finland. At that point I didn’t even know the place Finland was.”
Making his first steps into Senior Men’s soccer, Kassim had taken a job at JD Sports in Slough when the call got here and had a powerful resolution to make: “When the call got here I assumed it is perhaps a membership in Manchester or possibly Scotland one thing like that. And he mentioned Finland.
“The hardest factor was breaking the information to my mum. She’s my largest supporter however she needed to verify I adopted the schooling route. Football is a huge threat however I had to do that and he or she supported me, however I used to be actually fearful she would say no! Stay at JD however she supported me.”
“And it was nice for my improvement, totally different to Slough which I feel has the greatest 5-aside gamers in the nation however I’ve actually developed. It was the first time I used to be away however at Norrvalla, my first membership, the place he was based mostly there have been no distractions. It was a village. There was a petrol station and two Supermarkets and that was about it, it allowed me to dedicate myself to soccer. There was me and one other lad, we shared a flat and we simply skilled like professionals would. We have been in Division 4 however I had a coaching schedule and no distractions.
Listen to the full interview with Luqman Kassim on the Berkshire Football Stories podcast here:
Following his time with Norrvalla, Kassim was picked up by Vaasan Palloseura (VPS) for the 2021 Finnish season, occurring to win promotion to the Veikkausliiga (Finland’s prime division). Kassim defined contracts have been often only for a yr in Finland and he opted to maneuver on to newly promoted JaPs for 2022, the membership are in with a likelihood of giving the ahead back-to-back Second Division promotions.
Luqman has been a nice inspiration for our gamers, I feel and hope that they’ve realized a lot from him and may now profit much more this season. Since then, Luqman has been extra than simply a participant in Norrvalla; he has attended junior trainings, soccer college and been a referee at junior matches and extra. Sure we’ll miss him however I’m positive another person in right this moment’s squad will take a step ahead.
Magnus Backlund, Norrvalla captain on Luqman’s departure to VPS
During the varied Covid breaks, Kassim got here again to England and did lastly pull on the yellow and blue of Ascot United, taking part in alongside Harry Laflin and Jonny Denton. He added: “I actually cherished taking part in with JD, that man simply used to swing the ball again to me! I used to be sharper, I developed and I went again to Finland that season and I scored 41 targets in the fifth tier.
“I used to be taking part in with Ian Davies, I inform you, how is that this man scoring so many targets, I simply used to ask him so many questions and watch him. His understanding to be in the proper place, when to take the shot, he scored so many rebounds and I’m right here doing a 150 step overs and I’m going nowhere. But Ian was racking numbers and I realized a lot from him.”
Looking ahead, taking part in for JaPs, Kassim is snug with the membership’s sport plan which sees fast balls to the forwards and it’s served the staff effectively following promotion final season.
For now for Kassim, the goal is the Finnish prime flight: “The goal is top-flight full-time soccer in Finland. That’s one step away for me. The publicity right here as a result of the degree we’re at is far increased, if I can hit top-flight I’ll be taking part in groups making ready for European Qualifiers and actually testing myself. I’m loving the expertise.
“I wish to play again in England sooner or later and see how far I can get, however proper now I wish to be a top-flight soccer participant.”
The full podcast with Luqman Kassim is obtainable on all good podcast platforms from Friday. Search Berkshire Football Stories or click here.