Alhassan Yusuf has been rewarded with the Player of the Year in Goteborg after a remarkable breakthrough season as more awards beckon.
The award was by Goteburg Post.
26 games, two goals and two assists. There you have hard facts about the Nigerian big talent’s all-Swedish breakthrough season.
From his position as a central midfielder, Alhassan Yusuf during the all-Swedish season 2019 has sprung and squeezed opponents like Helsingborg, AIK, Hammarby and Malmö FF.
In the final against Östersunds FK at Gamla Ullevi, the 19-year-old midfielder was crowned the season with two goals and an assist.
– The best match of the year for me. It’s been a very good season for me, the first one where I’ve started matches. My breakthrough, says Alhassan Yusuf.
In competition with players from five elite clubs – IFK Gothenburg, BK Häcken, Örgryte IS, Gais and Göteborg FC – the running midfielder takes home the prize as this year’s football player in Gothenburg.
“I’m really happy about this. There are many good players and big clubs in Gothenburg, so that’s something I’m really proud of,” he said.
The prize is presented at Ullevi, where everything took off in April. The breakthrough came against Helsingborg and AIK.
“The match against Helsingborg was my first from the start, Giorgi (Kharaishvili) had been given a red card and was off, we had many injuries and I was the only one who could play in that position. The match was fantastic, we scored goals and I made a good match.”
Against AIK he took another step – and played centrally.
“The key was how I had performed in the previous matches. It took a lot of effort. I felt I could play. AIK was a big match and I was a little nervous. This came off after ten, fifteen minutes, then I entered the game.”
He has shown during the season that he has mastered all positions in the midfield.
“I’m comfortable playing anywhere. I’m best as a box-to-box midfielder, helping in the defence but also in the attack,” he explained.
Last summer he was close to a transfer to Wolverhampton in the Premier League. In the end, it was too short a time to obtain a visa. The deal ran out in the sand – this time.
After a strong spring season for Yusuf, a slight decline came in the fall.
“I got some injuries, it affected me. I think I’m back on my level. It is very difficult to play at the same high level all the time. Bouncing back from a lower level is even better,” he said.
He personally takes the success with calm.
“I was prepared for what was waiting. Among the audience, many wondered who I was, but personally I was ready for what was waiting. I’m not surprised. I knew from the start what I could and what my ability is.”
In a spontaneous “thank you” speech, Alhassan Yusuf highlights his club in Nigeria FC Hearts, the Tiki Taka Academy which took him to Sweden, football coach Tommy Johansson and IFK leader Olle Sultan.
“Without Tiki Taka it would not have been possible. And Tommy… I do not have words to describe how he has helped me, including with the adaptation to Swedish society. Olle has helped me on and off the pitch and invited me home to his family,” he revealed.
He has been pondering some of what is next in his career.
“For me, it’s just about taking steps that help me in my career. I have plenty of time. I am young and do not need to rush or stress. I can take it easy,” he says.
The contract with IFK Göteborg runs until 2022 – but will he play with the club next season?
“Hopefully. I’m really happy with the club, my teammates and everything around,” he answered.