The Gambia forward Yusupha Njie says he does not feel any pressure to emulate his legendary father Biri Biri but is still inspired by him.
The 27-year-old is the son of late Gambian football great Alhagi Momodou Njie, whose nickname was ‘Biri Biri’. The forward plays for Boavista in the Portuguese top tier.
While fans of Spanish club Sevilla still sing Biri Biri’s name, it was his son that Boavista supporters were talking about at the end of the season as Njie scored the goals that helped the club avoid relegation on the last day of the Portuguese season.
“I heard so many things being said like your father did this and that and you’ve to do it. To be honest, I have zero pressure with all those comparisons”, the former Real de Banjul forward told BBC Sport Africa.
“My focus is to play the football that I love and try to achieve my goals. I’ve to do what I love doing and try to achieve as much as possible to reach my targets but not like I want to do this because of my dad.
“For me, I don’t take it as a big thing like I need to prove something or I need to do what my dad did.”
Biri Biri passed away in the Senegalese capital Dakar in July 2020, aged 72 and Njie admitted it has been a tough year since his father’s death.
Njie senior was one of the first African players to make a name for himself in Europe and was the first Gambian to play professional football overseas when he signed for Danish club B.1901 Nykobing FL in 1972.
A year later, he left them to join Spanish side Sevilla, where he spent five seasons.
“It was very hard, very difficult to hear that kind of news losing someone that was so close to you, someone that is so much to you,” an emotional Njie explained.
“It was so difficult for me to deal with but at the end of the day, it’s life and we have to keep moving.
“I lost someone big especially in this game that I’m playing because he was everything to me, my adviser, my confidant but I still keep his words and memory with me and try to do the best to make him happy.
“People see him as a legend but for me, I see him as a dad as someone that inspires me, as someone that’s there when I need him, as someone that’s at my back pushing me and, someone who wants to see me win.
“He’s my hero and I feel proud to call him my dad and I see all the work he put in.”
Despite not playing in the qualifiers, Njie is proud of what The Gambia has achieved by qualifying for their first-ever African Nations Cup finals.
“Since childhood, we all dreamed about qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations and we managed to make it happen,” he said.
“I’m for the team and all Gambians, let’s just keep fighting and see what the Africa Cup of Nations will bring.
“It’s always a blessing to see the flag raised high no matter if am there or not, as far as I am Gambian and it’s my friends that are doing this it’s like am there doing it at the same time. When they did it I was happy just like them.”
The attacker will need to fight for his spot in Tom Saintfiet’s competitive squad and Njie says he’s relishing the challenge of battling with players like Musa Barrow, Ebrima Colley and Bubacarr Trawally for a place in the team.
“For me, I think that’s the best right now – like the saying ‘the best is yet to come’ – and that means we are a threat,” he continued.
“So for me, I like it that way so that everybody can fight to play for the national team it doesn’t have to be easy.
“It is good for me Musa Barrow or any player that’s playing right now. I’m sure they’re happy for this (competitiveness) and they like it so that we can push the flag of the country higher and every player will fight for the nation and the right to play.
“We have to thank god that he has made it possible that we’re having so many young players in Europe playing in the top leagues which is good for the country, we can compete.”