Anthony Elanga, the new £15m signing of NOTTINGHAM FOREST, was 11 years old when he thought he had made his dream transfer from Elfsborg to Swedish giants Malmö.
However, the transfer ended in tears a few months later when the winger’s tenure at Sweden’s biggest club abruptly ended.
Incredibly, one of Scandinavia’s most gifted football talents has suddenly started playing for the Hyde Sunday League grassroots team Hattersley on the pitted council grounds in Greater Manchester.
Now, ten years later, Elanga is much happier with his latest signing and can’t wait for the incandescent heat of his side of the insane City Ground for a change.
Jungle boss Steve Cooper has snatched the brilliant 21-year-old from Manchester United on orders to be a risk taker and a luck-taker at the sharp end of the park, starting against Arsenal at The Emirates.
Fortunately, risk-taking seems to be part of the Elanga family DNA, as her mother Daniella showed when she made a career-defining decision in 2013.
Elanga said: “I actually never told anyone how I was Swedish with a British accent!
“I was just signed by Malmo and was looking forward to being developed within their academia. But six weeks later, my mom told us we were moving to England because she thought there were better opportunities for us there, she said.
“It was definitely not a football decision, my mom thought it was a better move for me and my two sisters.
“However, as I have just joined Malmö, it was difficult to get along at first.”
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Elanga’s destiny has always seemed to be to star for Malmö and to follow the path laid by his famous father, Cameroon 1998 World Cup star Joseph Elanga, who enjoyed two spells at the heart of Malmö’s defense.
But Anthony’s ambitions were put on hold when his parents decided to move their young family to England, with coaches tipping him off to become a star.
“I’m not going to lie, I had tears,” said the youth, speaking softly in FIVE languages—French, Swedish, English, Spanish, and Portuguese—whose mastery rivaled his ball mastery.
“Before we moved, we went to my old club Elfsborg for a presentation night and my mom bought pizza for everyone.
“It was so emotional and when it was my turn to receive my presentation, I cried.
“When I wiped my tears and looked up, I saw a club jersey that they all signed and gifted me. It was a pretty sad time, but at the end of the day, you have to take risks, right?
“I felt like I could stay in Sweden. But when your mother says you have to go, you have to go!
“And he was finally right.”
However, Elanga experienced an early culture shock after replacing Malmo with Manchester.
He said: “Since I was in the Malmö system, I suddenly had no idea where I was going.
“I started locally with Hattersley FC, a good Sunday League grassroots team from Hyde.
“I actually played with Campbell Hatton, now a boxer, and the son of former world champion boxer Ricky Hatton.
But I always wanted to be a professional football player and reach the top.
“I knew you’d have a lot of opportunities in England – even playing Sunday league football from the grassroots.
“A lot of scouts came to watch and offered me six-week trial periods, which gave me motivation to start from there.
“Fortunately, I started with Manchester United after being spotted by scouts, it’s really not a bad place to start again!”
The winger has worked for United’s youth teams and has made more than 50 appearances for the club after making his debut against Leicester two years ago.
But his career stalled under new boss Erik ten Hag last season, appearing in just 26 of United’s 62 games.
Elanga hasn’t been afraid to act this time, and she says she’s now looking forward to feeling the atmosphere of the City Ground in their first home Prem game against Sheffield United on Friday.
Elanga added: “Old Trafford has 75,000 but even they said you can feel the intimidating atmosphere of the Forest fans.
“Mull of Kintyre. . . when you go out and hear what is being said by the whole floor, it’s daunting.
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