Globetrotter Savio is on a path to the top
Savio Nsereko is still just a teenager, yet his arrival at West Ham marks the latest step in an epic journey that has taken in four countries in two different continents
By JONATHAN CLEGG
Savio Nsereko is still just a teenager, yet his arrival at West Ham marks the latest step in an epic journey that has taken in four countries in two different continents.
The 19-year-old's route to Upton Park began in Uganda, taking in stops in Germany and Italy and culminating in his switch to the Hammers last week for a fee that could rise to �9m.
It is a modern-day odyssey and West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola is in no doubt that the forward's travels have set him on the path to the pinnacle of world football.
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"He's a strong boy and he's mature because he has seen a lot," Zola says. "He's got great potential - he can become a really top player. Because of where he has come from, he's very adaptable and he's very willing to learn."
Savio has had to adapt from an early age. As a two-year-old, his family left Uganda for Germany, where Savio's raw skills were first spotted by scouts from 1860 Munich.
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The youngster spent seven years at the club, progressing through the youth set-up and generating rave reviews among the coaching staff.
But the buzz surrounding the 15-year-old drew him to the attention of Gianluca Nani, then Brescia's technical director, and soon Savio was on the move again.
He signed for the Serie B club in the summer of 2005, aged 16, but struggled to settle during his early months in Italy after leaving his family behind in Munich.
"When I went to Bresica, my family remained in Germany and at the beginning, it was a bit [difficult] because I was alone and very young," Savio says. "But Brescia was like a family and after some time I felt very good there."
As Savio began to feel more comfortable in Italy, so his talent began to emerge. The forward made his first-team bow as a 16-year-old and gained a regular starting berth a year later.
But suitably for the globe-trotting teenager, it was in another new country that Savio cemented his reputation as a future star.
At the European Under-19 championships in the Czech Republic last year, Savio starred as Germany lifted the title, earning plaudits as the tournament's most outstanding player from UEFA technical observer Roy Millar.
"He can go inside on his right foot to make you a goal, or can go wide left and get in behind defenders," Millar says. "For me, he was the best player in the tournament."
Savio's stellar displays convinced Nani to sign the forward for a second time and the Italian finalised his switch to Upton Park last week.
As Savio settles into life in a different country for the fourth time, West Ham will hope his career maintains its current course to the top.