VANCOUVER, BC – It’s been a long road to Vancouver for Pa-Modou Kah.
Born in The Gambia, Kah has played professionally in six different countries after first making his debut in Norway as a teenager. And now he’s onto his seventh.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced the signing of Kah on Wednesday and the 34-year-old centre back, who spent the last two seasons with Portland Timbers, is looking forward to continuing his career north of the border.
“I’m very much looking forward to it,” Kah told whitecapsfc.com. “Since I came to North America, I’ve always liked Vancouver. You have the mountains surrounding the city, you have the water, and the people are always nice.”
“It’s a melting pot,” Kah continued. “You see people from all over the world. The people are humble, calm, and open to help. And this is a young upcoming team with a lot of talent. When the opportunity came up, I couldn’t let it go.”
Kah’s soccer journey has already taken him to Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. Not surprisingly, but still quite impressively, he’s fluent in eight different languages.
Spanish isn’t one of them, but well aware of Whitecaps FC’s strong Latin contingent, he was quick to point out that he does understand it.
“It will be nice,” Kah said of being around so many Spanish-speaking players. “It will help my Spanish get better.”
Kah’s native tongue is Wolof, a language spoken in The Gambia, Senegal, and Mauritania. He was born in Banjul, The Gambia, before moving to Norway with his family when he was eight years old. That’s where he began his professional career, spending six years with Oslo-based Vålerenga Fotball.
Kah scores wonder goal with Roda JC in the Netherlands
From there, Kah spent seven years with Roda JC in the Netherlands, where he played against top strikers like Luis Suarez and Robin Van Persie, before enjoying stints in Qatar and Saudi Arabia and finally making the move to North America in 2013.
Wherever he's played, Kah has become a fan favourite and popular figure in the locker room.
That’s partly because of his fiery play on the pitch, but also because of his off-field demeanor – something Whitecaps FC head coach Robinson referenced on Wednesday.
“He’s tough, he’s competitive, and character-wise he fits into what we’re about,” Robinson told TSN Radio Vancouver. “It was a no-brainer for us.”
Along those lines, a recent newspaper article in Portland described Kah as a “larger than life character with a heart to match.” One example of that came after a match against Vancouver last year, when Kah spontaneously brought a child with cancer onto the field and into the locker room to meet the team.
It’s a small gesture, but one that shows the type of person the 'Caps are getting.
Kekuta Manneh already knows all about that.
Manneh, also a native of The Gambia, knew of Kah growing up – he said it was a big story back home when the centre back played for the Norwegian national team.
They met for the first time in 2013 through mutual friend Mamadou “Futty” Danso and instantly clicked.
“He just has a great personality,” Manneh told whitecapsfc.com. “I can’t talk enough about that. I could go on all day. He’s a really good guy and his heart is in the right place. He’s very genuine, down to earth, and he’s a fun person to be around. I think he’ll really help on and off the field.”
Over the last few years, Manneh and Kah have kept in touch via text and hung out whenever Portland and Vancouver played against each other. Kah now refers to Manneh as a “little brother” and he said he’s looking forward to help unlock his “natural talent.”
“His potential is just unbelievable and I hope this year it will blossom,” Kah said. “I hope to play a part in showing him the way to be a professional at a high standard because his quality is amazing. And that goes as well for the rest of the players. They just need guidance, which they will get from our coach but also from the experienced guys. That’s something I’m looking forward to.”
And according to Manneh, that’s an area where Kah excels.
“He’s all about that,” Manneh said. “Whenever I talk to him, he’s always trying to help and make sure I’m going in the right direction. So I think a lot of the young players can benefit from him.”
Participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver! The 2015 Whitecaps FC season kicks off on March 7 versus Toronto FC at BC Place. Whitecaps FC Season Tickets are now on sale. In addition to Season Tickets, Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including Half-Season Packs, 5-Packs, Student Half-Season Tickets, and a Youth Soccer Half-Season Ticket. For more information on 2015 Season Tickets, visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.