Berlin (AFP) – Germany’s football federation the DFB on Wednesday launched an inquiry after doubts were raised over the identity of a Gambian footballer playing for Hamburg.
The German second division side’s records indicate that Bakery Jatta is 21 years old and arrived from Gambia as a 16-year-old in 2015.
But Germany daily Sport Bild dispute this, claiming that Jatta is in fact two and a half years older, and has played for Gambia’s U20 side under the name Bakery Daffeh.
Jatta’s journey from teenage refugee to promising footballer had caught the attention of domestic media.
But Bild claim that far from being an inexperienced youngster he had already played for numerous clubs in Africa as well as for Gambia’s Under 20s side before moving to Germany.
The paper quotes two managers who identified Jatta as their former player Daffeh.
Bild’s report says that any trace of Daffeh ends in August 2015, at precisely the same time as Jatta turns up in Germany.
A medical exam conducted at the start of 2016 revealed “that his biological development has finished”, Hamburg sporting director Peter Knabel noted at the time.
Despite that observation the player’s true age was never questioned.
Hamburg have responded to the revelations by backing their player, and alunching an inquiry of their own, AFP subsidiary SID reporterd.
“We have Bakery Jatta’s valid passport and work permit,” the club asserted.
“Bakery has been exemplary ever since he joined us. He was quick to integrate himself into the squad, we respect him as a player and as a person.”
Jatta’s agent has denied falsifying documents.
“He has a valid passport, which has been checked. All the rest for us doesn’t make any sense,” he told local media.
If Bild’s claims are verified Jatta risks having his work permit withdrawn and being hit with a suspension from the DFB.