BY: Oma Akatugba

It is no longer news that refugees flee many countries in Africa regularly, going through a very dangerous and treacherous journey through the Mediterranean sea in order to reach Europe in search of a better life. It is recorded that in the year 2017, more than 2,500 people have died or are missing after trying to get into Europe across the Mediterranean. It’s also a record year for arrivals – 160,000 in the first nine months of the year, already more than double the total for the previous record in 2011. More than 90,000 people have been fished out of the water by the Italian navy. This is exactly what Akolo survived as he and his father braved a perilous journey across the Mediterranean in 2009 following mother and sister, who had already fled then war-torn Zaire now known as DR Congo, arriving in Switzerland at the age of 14.

After being reunited in a refugees’ home in Switzerland, he once again picked up his passion and was soon spotted by Swiss Super League club Sion. His performances there caught Stuttgart’s eye, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Chedrac Akolo has started all four of Stuttgart’s Bundesliga fixtures this season and his second goal – sealing a 1-0 win over Wolfsburg on Matchday 4 which earned them their second victory. His four shots on goal were more than anybody else on the field and his work-rate was very high.

Playing on the dusty streets back home in Kinshasa, Akolo was so good that he was named Zidane because of his excellent ball-handling skills. Speaking during an interview he granted skydeutschland, Akolo said “I am from a very poor background and that is naturally a motivation for me.
“When I look back at where I am coming from, I want to always give my best to make my family proud”

Akolo wears the number 19 shirt at VfB Stuttgart, a number he picked to match the day of the month his sister was born.

HSV Hamburg did something similar in 2016, signing then refugee Bakery Jatta, who also fled the Gambia in a similar fashion as Akolo just six months before joining HSV Hamburg. His journey to the Bundesliga may not have been as long and arduous as that of Chedrac Akolo but getting off to a good start has been very difficult for the 19-year-old Gambia who has only managed to play just 6 games without scoring a goal for HSV Hamburg.

Chedrac Akolo’s journey into the Bundesliga may have been long and strenuous, but now that he has arrived, it looks like he’s is already in the Bundesliga to stay.

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