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I wasn’t used to playing with boots - Ostersund’s Alhaji Gero reflects on ‘unbelievable journey’

11:06 AM EST 12/8/17
Alhaji Gero
The Nigerian striker made history with the 20-year-old Swedish side and relives his journey to the Jämtkraft Arena

Alhaji Gero has reflected on his ‘unbelievable' football journey that started on the streets of Kano and has, so far, seen him making strides in Sweden, and Europe.

The 24-year-old who plays for Allsvenskan outfit Ostersunds also revealed his initial struggles with football boots having enjoyed kickarounds barefooted in the northern part of Nigeria.

"Back home in Africa where we grew up, we didn’t have a lot of things compared to European kids when they start playing football," Gero told Uefa website.

"When I started playing, I started with no shoes, playing in the street with a lot of bottles on the ground and stones.

"The first time I tried playing football wearing shoes, it was uncomfortable for me because I couldn’t play with them; I wasn’t used to it, so after ten minutes in the game, I said, ‘I’m going to play with no shoes.’

“The referee told me that I wasn’t allowed to play with no shoes because everyone here had shoes, so I had to wear them. To be honest, I didn’t feel like I could play in shoes, but later on, I kept trying - in training I sometimes used them, and sometimes I didn’t."

Now used to terrorising defences with his shoes on, the former Nigeria U20 international’s displays have helped Graham Potters’ side progress to the knockout phase of the Uefa Europa League, at the first time of asking.

"A year ago, you wouldn’t believe that we would be here, so anything can happen in football," he continued.

“It’s been a long journey with a lot of stories. But once you believe in what you can do, success is ahead [of you]."

Having helped his side finish fifth in the just concluded Swedish top-flight, the striker, on four goals this season, will now concentrate on helping the Allsvenskan side navigate their way past the Europa League Round of 32.