Twitter plea, a ball made out of netting and an unlikely dream - The story behind Ipswich Town's latest 'signing' Ahmed
PUBLISHED: 06:00 28 June 2019
Ipswich Town jokingly announced the 'signing' of someone the internet only knew as 'Ahmed' earlier this week following a Twitter exchange. STUART WATSON tracked down the mysterious man to tell his story.
Here's the full story behind Ipswich Town's latest 'signing'… the young Kenyan footballer who goes by the name of Ahmed.
It's a tale about the power of the digital age, about not judging a book by its cover and of hopes and dreams. So here goes…
On Monday, someone behind a spurious looking Twitter profile bombarded various English football clubs' social media accounts offering his services.
The message read: "Hello, am Kenyan 20 years old and I play LW/RW/CAM, please sign me and I promise to give my best and add more depth to the squad."
After Blues supporters jokingly urged the club to #announceahmed, they obliged with a dramatic graphic doing just that.
The gag continued. It made national news with Mail Online. One fan even went to the club shop and got 'Ahmed 47' (the squad number our mysterious man said he would take in a series of Twitter exchanges) printed on the back of the new home kit.
But who is Ahmed? Well, we've tracked him down. First there was an exchange of direct messages, WhatsApp texts followed and then, finally, a phone call…
"My real name is Joseph Simiyu Muse Wabuge," he explains. "I grew up a Muslim, and everyone still knows me as Ahmed, but my mother is Catholic and I changed my name when I was 10 years old.
"I am from a humble background. I grew up in a small village called Kapkoi. I have played football since I can remember. We make balls out of netting. The playground is just sandy and rough. I bought my football boots for 600 Kenyan shillings, the equivalent of six dollars.
"Now I study Bio-statistics at Jkuat (the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Nairobi), which is a long way from home (around 300km).
"I am from a polygamous family. I have two sisters and one brother from my mother, plus six siblings from three other mothers.
"My father is financially unstable and wants me to provide for us. He says I should forget about football and focus on my studies, but football is my passion.
"Right now, I am on holiday before my next term starts in September. I am staying at my aunt's house. One day I decided to send those messages…"
So how did Ahmed feel about what followed?
"It wasn't what I was hoping for," he said. "I hoped that one club would read it and maybe give me a chance. At first I thought Ipswich were serious, but then I realised people were only joking.
"But the more I have thought about it, the more it has strengthened my dream. It is amazing that I can be over here and now, because of Twitter, be speaking to you and have people talking about me."
Ahmed says Victor Wanyama - Kenya's most famous footballing export - acts as an inspiration. But it's Arsenal, not Tottenham, that he supports.
"I never miss a Champions League game on television," he says. "Cristiano Ronaldo is my God because of all the hard work he puts in. I also really like Mezut Ozil and Julian Draxler."
Asked why he believes he has what it takes to make it in English football, Ahmed says: "The crowd have always cheered for me and said I have talent. They tell me my hard work will pay off.
"I started out as a right-winger, but have become more versatile and now often play on the left or through the middle.
"I score goals, I give assists, I have vision, pace and can deliver good crosses. My biggest asset is stamina - I never get tired."
Ahmed now hopes to be able to watch Premier League club Everton play Kenyan side Kariobangi Sharks in a pre-season friendly on July 7.
"That game is near to where I live in Dandora," he says. "I will go if I can afford a ticket."
Where will this story go next? A few tweets from a remote location in East Africa have got him this far.
"Seeing that person hold up the Ipswich jersey with my name on, even though it is not serious, made me feel really proud," he says. "It has given me some hope that, God willing, one day this dream will come true."