EXCLUSIVE COLUMN: Bambo Diaby says he’s got his life back at Preston North End

Watching Senegal lift the African Cup of Nations has really whetted my appetite to one day play for the country of my birth.

By Bambo Diaby
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 4:45 pm

I was born in Senegal in 1997 but moved to Mataró, Catalonia, Spain, four years later where I grew up.

It has always been a dream to play for my country and I hope to achieve that ambition in the future.

But for the moment, it is time to savour Senegal’s maiden major tournament victory – the first occasion that we have been crowned champions.

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Warming up at Peterborough United last weekend

It was a tournament which I really enjoyed and I managed to watch all of Senegal’s games.

I am not too sure whether I am more happy for my country or more happy for me that we won.

When your country wins a continental trophy, it is always an unbelievable feeling.

Senegal has always had unbelievable players but now because of this victory, all the world is looking at our country and thinking, ‘Wow’.

It is a huge moment for the country – all of my family are over there.

When Liverpool striker Sadio Mane scored the winning spot-kick in the penalty shootout in the final against Eygpt, everybody in my family called me on the phone.

There were street parties and my family sent me videos saying that they wished I was there.

I want to congratulate the entire Senegal squad for their achievement. Going through the entire tournament unbeaten was fantastic and they have done the whole country proud.

While representing Senegal is an ambition I have in the future, my immediate aim is winning a place in the Preston team.

I want to thank the club for giving me the opportunity and I was really thrilled to be signed by the boss Ryan Lowe.

It shows that you should never stop believing in yourself and that’s what I did when I was serving my two-year suspension.

Being banned for testing positive for a banned substance while playing for Barnsley was a very difficult time for me and my friends and family. Nobody in football would imagine that this could happen. In my head, I have always wanted to be a big professional because that is my dream, so I was determined to do everything I could to get back in the game.

My family suffered a lot and I suffered more for my family than I did for myself, so I like to think I am doing this as much for them as I am for myself.

It feels like that I have my life back. The past two years were difficult because I don’t understand life without football.

I am very motivated to work hard every day and do my best for Preston.

Every training session is an opportunity for me to show who I am, my personality and show that I am good enough for the first team.

Although I have not played yet for the first team yet, to be handed a shirt for the Central League game against Bolton this week was an unbelievable feeling. We won 2-0 and I got the first goal, which was great.

I have been in and around the first team on matchdays and made the squad against Millwall.

It shows that I am getting close to making my debut for the club and I am keen to show the manager that I am focused and ready to play any time he needs me.

Maybe it will be my time this weekend against Reading at Deepdale.