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Featured Image Credit: BT Sport
This might just be one of the best stories you will read all year.
On February 22, 2022, Moustapha Cisse, who moved to Italy as a refugee and orphan, was signed by Atalanta's youth academy after scouts spotted him playing for ASD Rinascita Refugees, a club for players seeking asylum, in a friendly game.
Four weeks later, after moving from the eighth tier of Italian football to Serie A, the 18-year-old forward made his league debut against Bologna – coming on to replace Luis Muriel with half an hour to play at the Stadio Dall’Ara.
He made an instant impact. Cisse looked dangerous in attacking areas and, just 15 minutes after coming off the bench, the Guinea-born striker scored the winner to give Atalanta a crucial three points.
After managing to stay onside, the teenager opened up his body to gather Mario Pasalic’s pass, looked up and converted past Lukasz Skorupski with a terrific finish.
From playing in the eighth tier of Italian football to scoring the winning goal on his professional debut – all in the space of a month.
What a story for Atalanta's Moustapha Cissé 🤩— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 20, 2022
Comes off the bench and scores on his Serie A debut.
The 18-year-old was playing in the 8th tier of Italian football just a few weeks ago 😳 pic.twitter.com/dTnYQoyI9A
Atalanta’s goalscorer Moustapha Cissé played for a team in Italy’s eighth tier comprised of refugees before joining La Dea in February ⬇️ https://t.co/VYcM8dLigk— Rete This Way: A Calcio Podcast 🇮🇹🇨🇦 (@RTWCalcio) March 20, 2022
Cisse was carried on the shoulders of his teammates after his heroics and after the full-time whistle, defender Merih Demiral expressed his delight with the 18-year-old's overall impact since joining.
“It was important to win tonight, I am very happy for Atalanta and for Cisse, because he already settled in really well during training,” the former Juve man told DAZN.
“He deserved this goal and from the next game he will do even better.”
Moustapha Cissé was signed by Atalanta youth academy last month, the 18-year old made his Serie A debut and scored the winner for Atalanta! 💪 pic.twitter.com/PL28PqD8L3— Sportskeeda Football (@skworldfootball) March 21, 2022
Antonio Palma, who is the president of ASD Rinascita Refugees, recently opened up about Cisse's story.
"He was a polite and respectful boy, he dreamed of becoming a football player,” says Palma via La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"After a series of family events, including the death of his father, Moustapha dropped out of school as a teenager and left Guinea in search of a better life.
"At the time he was a 16-year-old boy: disorientated, scared, who didn't know what to do. Within the project, there is a football team, the Renaissance Refugees, who are made up of the boys beneficiaries of the reception.
"That's where Moustapha moves his first steps on the Italian fields. In a short time, he became one of our most important footballers. He always kept the signboard, he was our best maker.
"He made his dream of a lifetime come true, yet he didn’t lose his sensitivity and he remained the boy forever.”