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24.05.2018, 15:10
Adama Keita: from France’s third division to Cologne
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FEATURE: At the start of this season, PSG’s 20-year-old left wing could not have dreamed he was going to be on court at the FINAL4, but he has grabbed the opportunity with both hands
 

Adama Keita: from France’s third division to Cologne

Last September, nobody would have thought to ask Paris Saint-Germain’s 20-year-old left wing Adama Keita if he thought he would play in the EHF Champions League FINAL4 in May 2018. Why? Because at that time, Keita was still playing in Paris’ B team, in France’s third division.

“I was even meant to leave the club last summer. But that didn't happen, so I decided I'd show my best, just to find another club. Even though I was playing in the third division I knew that if I played well, this might raise a few eyebrows,” remembers Keita. And that is what he did – for six months, he led the league as the top scorer with an average of 10 goals per game.

But that situation only lasted for six months. Uwe Gensheimer and Dylan Nahi, the two usual left wings in the A team, were injured – and Adama Keita was called to play in their place.

“I knew the team because I had already done the preparation with them. But I put myself under a lot pressure, not to fail and not to disappoint,” says Keita, who made his VELUX EHF Champions League debut in a group phase game against Flensburg.

“The Champions League is a competition I had been watching for years, so to be on the court was incredible, especially since we were playing against Flensburg, a team I really like.”

“Everything I get, I appreciate”

For a young player to take part in the most important club competition in the world, with some of the biggest stars in the sport, is not exactly an easy thing – especially after spending the previous six months playing against non-professional clubs.

“But in Paris, you can't have your eyes open, smiling, thinking about how you're living a dream. Of course I have, but on the court, things go so quickly that I don't think about that. But sometimes, after some games, I would be like: ‘Wow, I just played in the Champions League against this guy,” smiles Adama Keita, who is now a steadfast member of PSG’s team. He has just signed his contract, joining his older brother, Mahamadou (playing for Ivry), as the second professional handball player in his family.

Keita may not have hoped to be on court at the FINAL4 until very recently, but he has grabbed the opportunity and has yet to set a foot wrong. Even though Uwe Gensheimer and Dylan Nahi returned, Keita still sits on the bench and plays sometimes – which, for now, is enough to make him happy:

“Everything I get, I appreciate. And when I play, I just try to do my job as well as possible. I can feel that the coach and my teammates trust me,” Keita says, before revealing what it means to him to play in LANXESS Arena.

“I've watched every edition since 2010 and to be able to take part in such an event is a privilege. But it's even harder for a player like me to remain focused on the court. There are a lot of media solicitations, everybody talks about it. The players around me have more experience than me, they're used to it.”

In Cologne, Keita will be able to count on big support from his family. Out of seven siblings, five of them play handball. His older brother plays for Ivry, Adama's twin sister plays for the Paris Saint-Germain women’s team, and the two youngest in the family still play for their local club.

“Where I come from, we would turn either to football or handball. But there was nothing planned, I could have not liked it and stopped right away,” says Keita. In the end, it seems it was a good idea for the 20-year-old not to stop playing handball.


TEXT: Kevin Domas / cg
 
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