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Interview: Felix Afena-Gyan on his rapid rise to first team

Last month 18-year-old forward Felix Afena-Gyan became the latest Roma player to make the leap from the Primavera to the first-team, as coach Jose Mourinho gave him his professional debut in the away win over Cagliari.

Now part of Mourinho's first team squad after a subsequent appearance against AC Milan, the Ghanaian this week gave his first interview, with Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio.

Here is what he had to say about his rapid rise through the ranks this season...


The route to Rome

"I've had a huge passion for football since I was small. I played for one of the best academies in my country, thanks to the support of my family. I was always focused on becoming a footballer.

"One of the club's scouts saw me during a tournament in Ghana and he took me to Rome for a trial. Roma decided to give me a contract almost straight away. It was an opportunity that I never in my life expected to get - I'm grateful to God and to the club for it."


His relationship with Mourinho

“Mourinho is a great coach, especially with the young players. He's a coach that encourages you and motivates you - I really like him. He pushes you and drives you to do what he wants, to give him your best and make sure you keep improving day by day.

"I think that the relationship we have is because of the attittude I show in every training session, the hard work I put in out on the pitch. I am sure that, if I didn't work as hard as I am doing, there is no way the boss would mention me on his Instagram like he did."


The support from his teammates

"I always watch Tammy [Abraham] and Shomu [Eldor Shomurodov]; I learn a lot from them and what they do out on the pitch. When I am on the bench and watching them on the pitch, I try to watch their movements so I can copy them myself or learn something from it - because they are clearly much more established players compared to me.

"In the changing room they really do all help me a lot. We are a team, we talk a lot amongst ourselves and if I do something that isn't quite right then there is always someone who is there to point it out and help me get better.

"I speak with all the players, especially those who know a bit more English - like [Lorenzo] Pellegrini who has always really helped me. Even in training, if we are doing an exercise that the coach is explaining to us in Italian, one of my teammates will come over to make sure I have understood everything."

 
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