Manchester City youngster Divine Naah has targeted a place in the senior Ghana national team after an explosive end to the 2014/15 season on loan to Dutch side NAC Breda.

Manchester City youngster Divine Naah has targeted a place in the senior Ghana national team after an explosive end to the 2014/15 season on loan to Dutch side NAC Breda.

There?s whole a lot more to Divine Naah than a name which is an open goal for newspaper sub-editors.

First off, he prefers to go by the name of ?Mallam?, meaning ?guru? ? the nickname bestowed upon him by friends based on his street football prowess in the slums of Accra.

Secondly, this 19-year old can play ? as supporters of Dutch Eerste Division outfit NAC Breda will attest to.

The City playmaker is six months into an 18 month loan spell with NAC and has targeted a place in the senior Ghanaian national team after an explosive end to the 2014/15 season.

Naah?s first senior goal in May could hardly have been more special, as the youngster beat five players with a mazy dribble and then delivered the coolest of finishes in a relegation play-off match against VVV Venlo.

Speaking of the goal that almost helped to preserve the club?s Eredivisie status, Divine told ?It was a nice goal because we were in a play-off to try to stay in the league.

?I was very happy to make the goal ? it was definitely one of the best goals I?ve ever scored.

?I want to make an impact with the Black Stars soon ? hopefully playing well in the Eredivisie which is a widely televised European league has helped to get me noticed and I will soon be called up to show what I can do.?

However good his first senior strike was, scoring goals isn?t the part of his game that the Right to Dream Academy graduate is most concerned with.

Mallam?s list of footballing heroes is made up of players who load the bullets for teammates rather than hitting the back of the net themselves, as he explains: ?I play as a central attacking midfield, I look up to players like Fabregas, Silva or Nasri ? I?m a playmaker.

?When I grew up it was players like Iniesta and Ronaldinho who I modelled myself on ? someone who keeps the game going.

?Back in Africa it?s mainly street football and so it?s a very individual game focused on one-on-ones and beating players. When I came to Europe I had to learn to blend these skills into a professional, team-based game ? it?s hard at first to adapt your style but I think it?s a good thing to try and do.?

This is Naah?s second loan spell after he spent a short time at Stromgodset in the summer of 2014, shortly after he signed for City.

Although he didn?t play many games for the Norwegian Tippeligaen side, he says that he learned a lot in his short time there and these are lessons he?s putting to good use in Holland.

?It was difficult at first at Stromgodset as it was my first taste of being at a professional club but I learned a lot through the experience,? Divine reflected.

?Afterwards, City decided that, at my current level, I could play in the Eredivisie and they found me the opportunity at NAC Breda to go and further my education.

?The level is really high, I wasn?t expecting it to be as high as it is ? but gradually I started to play more and more games and I really like the level.?

In what has been ?an unbelievable year?, Divine has had the opportunity to train with the City first-team ? an experience which he describes as ?vital? in raising his confidence and readying him for the challenges which lie in wait.

This self-assurance is underpinned with a refreshing blend of humility and realism as the youngster outlines his ambitions for the short and long term.

?I wasn?t expecting to train with the first-team but I did and it?s a big confidence boost to play with these players and you can start to believe that one day you will get there,? he smiled.

?Their touches are perfect. Through the session they tell you what you can do better, where you should be ? it?s a huge learning curve.

?Playing at the Etihad Stadium and pulling on the City shirt would be a dream and that?s what I?m working for. It would be unbelievable but I know one day I can do it.

?For now, I want to play with the Black Stars and these experiences I am using for motivation ? I feel ready to help now and I hope I will get the chance.?

Divine Naah? expect you?ll remember the name, in more ways than one!


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