Amadou Diawara has gone from a church team in Conakry, Guinea to Serie A in two years, but the 18-year-old Bologna's midfielder's meteoric rise could just be beginning.
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Amadou Diawara was playing for a church team in Guinea two years ago but he has taken Serie A in his stride this season, with some of Europe's biggest clubs reportedly paying ever more attention.
Name: Amadou Diawara
Debut: 14 August 2015 v Pavia (Coppa Italia)
Date of birth: 17/07/1997
Preferred foot: both
They say …
"He is a top prospect, he is still very young but when you are that good, age is not important. He plays with enthusiasm. He may lack some experience but that's part of the game and will come with time."
Bologna coach Roberto Donadoni
"He is 18, but when you see him on the pitch he looks like he is playing in the garden of his own house. If he keeps improving, he is destined to become a top player. I'm not surprised that big clubs are following him."
Former Bologna player Lamberto Zauli
Diawara was playing with a Conakry church team when he was spotted aged 16 by scout Roberto Visan. He spent a week at an academy run by Bologna director of sport Pantaleo Corvino. He shone, and Bologna closely followed Diawara's progress at San Marino in the Italian third tier before making him theirs. He made his Serie A debut as a substitute in the first weekend of the season and swiftly became a key figure in midfield.
Playing style …
Equally assured whether breaking up opposition attacks or distributing the ball, Diawara plays in front of the defensive line with assurance and calm well beyond his years. He can make short and long passes, and dictate the tempo of the game. He could improve with shooting from distance but time is certainly on his side.
Shades of …
Diawara styles his game on another African player who can both win balls in midfield and build the game going forward, Yaya Touré. "He is my idol," he says. "I hope to become like him one day because I play in a similar role and I consider him an amazing player."
Eureka moment ...
Newly-promoted Bologna had a difficult start to the Serie A campaign and coach Delio Rossi was sacked on 28 October with the Rossoblù stuck on six points after ten games. Bologna started to fly under new boss Donadoni, though, with a 3-2 victory against in-form Napoli on 6 December a real statement. So too was Diawara's performance, complete with a precise long pass for Mattia Destro's opener.
Best-case scenario …
Diawara's performances with San Marino were noticed by several top Italian clubs, and Corvino had to move quickly to bring him to Bologna. Not many predicted that the teenager would adapt to Serie A so quickly, though, and the list of suitors grows ever longer. The next step in a remarkable journey could be imminent.
He says …
"Everything seems like a dream. It has gone so quickly, I was playing for a church team and now I'm here. I'm only 18 and I want to improve. Age is not a problem, however. I think quality has no age and you don't have to wait to use the skills you have."