A Day In The Life Of Vajebah Sakor
By Julu Johnson
Vajebah Sakor is the name on the lips of many who follow the Juventus Primavera as the future of the Bianconeri midfield.
But a more grounded, calm youngster it would be difficult to find, and the 17-year-old Norwegian is for now solely focused on becoming the best he can be.
His desire to reach full potential was clear to see in an exclusive Juventus.com interview at the club’s training base in Vinovo. And the starting point for achieving that, he believes, is dedication to the professionalism required of all who wear the black and white stripes.
The Norwegian, whose chief attributes are natural positional awareness and a lethal long-range shot, described the Juventus players’ focus on the task at hand as being on a different level to what he experienced in Norway, the country where he grew up and rose to prominence with Rosenborg.
“You have to follow a set routine at this club because everyone is very professional,” he said. “The first team here are world stars, whereas down in Norway it’s a little bit different because it’s less international.
Sakor’s daily routine includes a period of study at Juventus College, the club’s in-house educational centre which strives to combine the academy youngsters’ football commitments with a steady and effective academic syllabus.
“I go to bed around ten o’clock, sleep well, then I’m up at 8.30 or 9.00 to do some school stuff. I go to the Juventus College, where the main thing I do is try to improve my Italian. I also connect online with a Norwegian school.”
He works hard, but he has a wonderfully relaxed, laid-back personality away from his commitments and makes the most of his free time, watching films and listing to music as well as enjoying the company of his Primavera team-mates, for whom he is full of praise.
“I really like the atmosphere in the hotel,” he beamed. “We’re all young lads so there are lots of practical jokes, of course, and it’s good for me because I can improve my spoken Italian by hanging around with the guys. My best friends in the group are Joel Untersee and Vykintas Slivka.”
Sakor has come a long way to get to where he is now. It all began in Liberia, the country of his birth and the place where he first dreamed of being a footballer.
“I first had a ball at my feet when I was five or six. Football was popular in Liberia because we had George Weah, of course. I was just like every kid, my life was football and my friends.”
Soon after those first footballing steps, he moved to Norway at the age of seven. There, he started playing for a local team.
“I have fond memories of the first goal I ever scored: it was in a five-a-side tournament and I was eight years old. I remember I was so happy scoring that goal, it was a great feeling.”
Fast forward to 2013 and Sakor was competing for Rosenborg in the Next Gen Series, a youth competition in which his performances made such an impression on Bianconeri scouts that he was snapped up in January in the face of strong interest from a number of other European clubs.
It was a dream move for the youngster, who has always looked up to the most legendary players to wear the black and white stripes.
“Even now I still have posters on my wall, and players like Zinedine Zidane and Andrea Pirlo are my heroes. I’ve watched Edgar Davids a bit, he’s a good player of course.”
With those Bianconeri legends as the faces that adorned his bedroom as a child, it’s no wonder he was excited to have the chance to train alongside the current Juventus stars at this summer’s pre-season training camp in Chatillon.
“It was unbelievable and very fun to play with my idols in Chatillon, but at the same time it also represented a learning process.”
A constant source of guidance in this development is Primavera coach Andrea Zanchetta, a man who Sakor clearly has a lot of respect for.
“I get on well with him, he has experience and he knows what he’s doing. He’s a good coach. He makes you work hard because that’s part of the game, if you want to become somebody you have to graft.”
Another coach who has helped him realise what it takes to make it as a top player is Antonio Conte, whose famous methods Sakor had the chance to experience during pre-season in the hills of Val d’Aosta.
“He has a plenty of tactics that I’ll have to learn if I want to become part of the team. My aim is to be involved soon, but it depends on how hard I work.”
In the meantime, his mind is rightly focused on this afternoon, when the Juventus youngsters will take on Real Madrid in the UEFA Youth League - the Under 19 Champions League equivalent - having opened this year’s competition with a 2-2 draw against FC Copenhagen and a 3-1 triumph over Galatasaray.
“I’m looking forward to the game with Real Madrid, it will be interesting to face a team of their stature. Of course we have every chance of doing well, it’s football. We have four points after two games, we should have had six but Copenhagen were lucky.”
In the future, Sakor could become one of Juventus’ leading lights in the senior European competition. For now, though, he is taking an admirable attitude of approaching each day at a time and, above all, enjoying his football.
“For now I just want to keep working hard, playing well and enjoying myself. That’s what football’s all about.”