Under the Spotlight is a feature series that focuses on the rising stars and trends of tomorrow, and those which have achieved success beyond the limits of their respected field. The series will be run by Urban Times editor Christian Julal.
How many times do you have to fail before you give up? For Demba Ba, that question doesn’t exist. On January 4th 2013, Demba Ba joined current European Champions Chelsea F.C. at the age of 27. While it is clear that Ba has reached the top when it comes to football clubs, the road to success has been anything but smooth.
The Senegalese striker has been one of the most prolific scorers in the English Premiership for the past two seasons, which warranted a transfer from Newcastle United to Chelsea. While he may seem like an overnight success, Ba’s struggle and dedication to football is something to be admired.
During his teenage years, rejection and Ba were synonymous as he traveled from club to club looking for a team to play on. He traveled all over France trying out for clubs such as Lyon and Auxerre before heading to England, only to be rejected by clubs such as Barnsley and Swansea.
In an interview with the BBC, Ba recalls the difficulties of trying out for different clubs while having no money:
“We had no money, we didn’t know what to do. We contacted an agent who was able to send us some money to pay the £500 bill. In those days, we were eating only crisps and drinking water.”
After numerous rejections from English clubs, Ba returned to France where he played for Rouen. In order to play for Rouen however, Ba had to completely transform his style of play by changing positions. Ba changed from a defensive midfield to a striker, which proved successful as he scored 22 goals in only 26 appearances. Success seemed imminent until a serious injury forced him to sit on the sidelines, and thus he was transferred to second division German club, Hoffenheim.
Ba, however, wouldn’t let an injury prevent him from achieving his dreams. Not only did Ba help Hoffenheim regain a strong hold in the Bundesliga, but also helped them achieve 7th place the following season. After a few seasons with Hoffenheim, Ba caught the attention of many English Premier League managers, including Alan Pardew and Newcastle United.
In two seasons with Newcastle, Ba had scored 29 times, and had proven to be a consistent threat upfront. He had not only become Newcastle’s top scorer, but has also become one of the Premier League’s finest. It was only a matter of time before a top flight club such as Chelsea took notice:“You know when a club like Chelsea want you the decision is going to be easy” Ba explains after the deal was finalized just a few days ago.
With injuries behind him, Ba is at the peak of his career both physically, and financially, playing for the current European Champion. With the odds against him, Ba has transformed, adapted, and succeeded, something that very few thought possible. Ba’s journey has been one with many road blocks, but his dedication and hard work has allowed him to persevere in even the most brutal conditions. If we are to take anything from this story, it is that our dreams are within our grasp, if only we dare to reach.