By Will Unwin
Amadou Kassarate has never been afraid of risk, chasing his dream as a professional in Greece and almost moving to South Korea to play.Due to the short and precarious nature of a career in football, London-born Kassarate always looked at options away from the sport.The former Tottenham youth player is now launching a new clothing range, helped by some of his friends in the game.“My mum always told me ‘you’re good at football but if you get injured or things don’t work out, it’s good to have another option’.
“She also told me the worst thing in life is to be limited, so she pushed me on in education, getting a degree, so I graduated in Sports and Exercise Science at the University of East London.”
Eventually, Kassarate decided clothing was the right industry for him, following conversations with a former Spurs teammate.“I had an initial conversation with Nathan Oduwa about what we should do and we came up with the idea of clothing, as we like clothes, we like being stylish, we like to look good and we wear tracksuits all the time. “I gradually got more and more into it but with football and everything, I didn’t put 100% focus on it but as the years went by I started to do samples, we started to design logos and bring things together and finally it has started.”
Kassarate was brought up in south-east in London but played international football for Senegal Under-20s.
The midfielder has had plenty of interest in the clothes from fellow footballers about his clothes and can boast Crystal Palace star Cheikhou Kouyate and former West Ham player Edimilson Fernandes among his models.
Kassarate is using his African heritage as his inspiration for Sapes Come Jamais, which translates as swagger like never before.
“It is inspired by African culture, blended with contemporary fashion and the goal is to champion individuals to celebrate their truth.
“There is a lack of representation from the African diaspora and there is clear injustice within black people and we are trying to provide a solution to fulfil the desire to celebrate Afro-culture and changing the perception of Africa and black people through good clothes and strong aesthetics - that is the goal behind it.”
Still only 24, Kassarate is looking for the next step of an intriguing football career, which saw him win promotion in Greece and turn down the offer of a contract in South Korea, giving him a broad perspective of the football industry.
Kassarate has also played in the Scottish Championship, in addition to spells with a number of non-league clubs in the south east.
“When I went to Greece it was never a smooth journey but it teaches you a lesson about life that if things go left or right that you have to stay strong and have a positive mentality.
“Initially when I went to Greece I was supposed to sign for a certain team but that team could not sign me for a certain reason, then I was trying to sort out something else.
“I had the chance to come back to England but I said ‘I am here and I should make the most of it’.
“We got to the playoffs, we got promoted, I was one of the best players in the team.
“Living in Greece was a challenging experience but a great one; learning a new language and a new culture; the food is great, the people are lovely.”
Kassarate was playing for non-league Welling United when he received his first international call-up to the Under-20s squad, despite thinking he might not be on Senegal's radar.
“That was the best experience I’ve had in football but the most challenging as well because when I was growing up playing football in England, I never had a view of football in the rest of the world; how they work, how they play, how they train, diet, everything.
“I am Senegalese in origin but I was never prepared to play football there, so when I got there it was really hot, you train twice a day but the training was much more high-intensity, you train first and then eat breakfast, which I had never done in my life, so it was really tough.
“It made me grow from a young boy to a man in football very early.”
The African influence helped Kassarate mature on the pitch, now he is hoping it will help him prosper away from it.