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Alexander Isak, the Afro-Swedish soccer player that has taken the world by storm

Apr 12, 2023 12:00PM ● By Jerrywright Ukwu

Image: Alexander Isak in 2016. Source: Wikimedia Commons

There are so many grass-to-grace stories in the world of sports. Young athletes fight to get to the top and compete in the big leagues after struggles in the slums or suburbs. 

But, the story of Alexander Isak takes the cake. He is the child of African refugees. His parents fled war-torn Eritrea before he was born in Solna, a working-class suburb of Stockholm, Sweden. 

In the 1980s, his father, Teame, a teacher, wanted a brighter future for his prospective family. At the time, Eritrea was at the center of a protracted civil war between competing organizations for the country's liberation. Teame and his wife decided to leave their homeland behind and relocate to Northern Europe.

Isak was born in 1999 and trained with the local team AIK aged six. There he encountered coach Nahom Ghidey, who also came from an Eritrean background. 

Image: Alexander Isak playing for Sweden in 2019. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Breakthrough for the youngster

At 16, Isak made his breakthrough with AIK, debuting in 2016 in a Swedish Cup tie. He would score in his 15-minute cameo and later become the youngest scorer for AIK in league history by netting against Östersunds FK in a 2-0 win.

On his 17th birthday, a double against AIK's arch-rivals Djurgårdens IF saw former team-mate Chinedu Obasi pay him the ultimate compliment. 

"Sweden's new Zlatan Ibrahimović," Obasi declared in an appraisal that alerted Europe's top soccer clubs. Isak then moved on to a more significant challenge.

In 2017, Isak moved to Borussia Dortmund, a German club. The transfer was said to have cost around £8 million - a record fee. 

Ahead of the 2019-20 season, he signed a five-year deal worth a reported £19,000-a-week at Spanish club Real Sociedad. His transfer fee was £9 million.

In August 2022, British club Newcastle signed Isak from Real Sociedad in a club-record £59 million transfer. He has since proven himself in the best soccer league in the world.

Image: Alexander Isak training with Borussia Dortmund in 2017. Source: Wikimedia Commons

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Proud Eritrean

Over the years, Isak has shown he is proud of his country. In 2018, he visited his homeland with his family: Ambassador Zemede Tekle, Commissioner of Culture and Sports in Eritrea, hosted him.

During his stay in Eritrea, Isak visited the grassroots football projects and watched a soccer game at a local stadium. 

While visiting the country, Isak tweeted a photo of him with the locals with the caption: 'Honre sua origem' meaning translated as 'Honor your orgin.'

From being born into a middle-class Eritrean family in Eastern Africa, Isak is putting on a show in soccer, and we love to see it! 

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