Kallon Finds a New Lease of Life

10 November 2005 at 02:55 | 1502 views

By Farayi Mungazi,
BBC Sport.

Mohamed Kallon has told BBC Sport that he is in no hurry to quit Saudi Arabian club Al Ittihad.

The Sierra Leone captain says he is content with life in a land more synonymous with oil and camels than football.

Kallon has seen his career rejuvenated in the oil-rich kingdom, helping Ittihad retain their Asian Champions League title in a campaign in which he also finished as the top goal scorer.

"When I made the decision to come to Saudi Arabia, I somehow knew that something special would happen because Ittihad is one of the biggest clubs in Asia," Kallon said from his base in Jeddah.

A few months ago, the 26-year-old’s career was going nowhere fast, bogged down at Italian giants, Inter Milan.

After serving a six-month suspension for a positive drugs test, he found himself out of favour and out of sorts.

A move away from Inter looked his best option for restarting a stalled career, and in July last year, he put pen to paper on a four-year deal with French club, Monaco.

But football has a habit of playing with fortune and Kallon’s misery was compounded when he failed to settle down despite a promising start which saw him score a few goals.

Following a very public spat with the then Monaco coach, Didier Deschamps, Kallon was shipped out on loan to Ittihad after just one season in France.

Although some critics expected him to slowly fall off the football radar, the move signalled the rebirth of a career that had threatened to spiral into oblivion.

"I didn’t know anything about Asian football when I came here, and all the teams were strange. But I’m very happy now," said Kallon, adding that being a Muslim has helped him to settle in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

"They have a different mentality here and religion plays a big part. I’m a Muslim, so I have no problems in adapting in this society. Coming here has also helped me to pay more attention to God."

Indeed, the Leone Stars international can view his miserable spells at Inter and Monaco with mirth after his six goals helped Ittihad to continue the Champions League crown.

They beat Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates 4-2 in Saturday’s second leg of the final, giving them a 5-3 win.

The Saudi outfit will now represent Asia at December’s World Club Championship in Japan. And Kallon insists his main priority is the continued improvement and success of Ittihad.

"I have nothing to prove to anyone in football because I’ve been playing for a long time now, but it would nice if I can help my team to win the world title in Japan."

Photo: Mohamed Kallon in action.