Ebrima Darboe is playing a Europa League semi-final for Roma against Manchester United, but five years ago he arrived in Italy on a refugee boat as an unaccompanied child.
Now 19, the midfielder came off the bench to replace injured Chris Smalling at the Stadio Olimpico just 30 minutes into tonight’s match.
It has been quite a journey for Darboe, who arrived in Italy from Gambia without his parents at the age of 14.
Coming via a refugee camp in Libya, he was registered with the SPRAR project (Protection System for Refugees and Asylum Seekers) after arriving in Italy and was immediately assigned a social worker by the courts.
He was assigned to a family in Rieti, near Rome, and discovered his love for football.
Darboe made his debut for the Roma Primavera squad in 2019 and signed his first contract as a professional, describing that as ‘fulfilling a dream.’
He made his Serie A debut against Sampdoria last week and is now starring on the stage of the Europa League semi-final.