Cottagers give Kamara a fresh try at true love

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2007, 12:00am

Diomansy Kamara has flirted with the English Premier League but he's yet to develop the relationship into a full blown - and mutual - love affair.

Stints in the top flight with Portsmouth and West Bromwich Albion gave the 26-year-old Senegalese striker a chance to showcase his pace but not, on enough occasions, his scoring touch.

And when West Brom tumbled out of the Premiership at the end of the 2005-06 season - with Kamara only finding the back of the net twice in the matches he played - there's little doubt his career was at the crossroads. The boo-boys, certainly, were baying for his blood.

In the end, though, a season of Championship graft might just be the making of the man. His 23 goals for the Baggies in 06-07 took them to within a whisker of a Premiership return, and an off-season, #6 million (HK$96.5 million) trade to Fulham has given him a chance to rekindle that romance.

'The coach [Lawrie Sanchez] has offered me a lot and I have to do my job,' said Kamara, in Hong Kong as part of the Cottagers' squad for the Barclays Asia Trophy.

'I am so happy to be able to stay in England. It is a wonderful opportunity for any player to play in another country and the Premiership is the best football in Europe now, so I am happy to be back there.'

Kamara has benefited from Sanchez' policy of bringing to Craven Cottage players who have experienced the rough and tumble of the British game - and knows that big things are expected of him from a club who recently have hardly set the pitch alight in front of goal.

'There is a little bit of pressure - the club bought me for GBP6 million and that is so expensive,' he said. 'But it is good pressure, not bad pressure. I know I have to score a lot of goals and prove myself in the Premiership. But the team want me a lot and this is important for a footballer.'

Fulham survived life in the top flight by the skin of their teeth last season - just one point separated them from the condemned - and Kamara said Sanchez has been all about building the spirit around the club during the off-season.

'The team are playing well and I scored in my debut for them - that was important for me personally,' he said. 'Trips like this are important for our fitness for when we get out there in the Premiership. The most important thing for every footballer is that you work very hard. You have to adapt and you have to work hard.'

The Barclays Asia Trophy is giving players a chance to blow off the final cobwebs - the season proper is now less than a month away - and a chance to reach out to their fans.

'We know that the Chinese people love their football so it is important for us to play well for them,' he said. 'It is a good tournament for me because there are a lot of good players here and for a footballer it is never really a friendly game - we all want to win.'