Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mohamed Lamine Sissoko Gillan

Mohamed Lamine Sissoko Gillan (born 22 January 1985 in Mont-Saint-Aignan, France) is a French-born Malian footballer who is currently playing for Serie A Juventus and the Malian national team. Although he could have elected to play for France internationally, he chose to play for the country of his descent, Mali. Sissoko is a tough tackling defensive midfielder.[1]

Club career

AJ Auxerre

Sissoko began his playing career in the youth system of French club AJ Auxerre, although he never managed to appear with the club's first team prior to his 2003 sale to Spanish La Liga club, Valencia CF, coached by Rafael Benítez. Up until this move, Sissoko had always played as a striker for AJ Auxerre, but began adapting to his new role under his new manager.


Following his transfer to La Liga, Sissoko remained with Valencia between 2003 and 2005. At the time, the manager of Valencia was Rafael Benítez, who eyed the Malian player as a talented youngster with obvious potential to turn into a top-notch defensive midfielder. The 2003–2004 season was a very successful year for Valencia and moderately so for the Malian player. Los Che were crowned La Liga and UEFA Cup champions, while Sissoko totaled nine matches and one goal in a friendly fixture for his new club. The following year, Benítez left to manage Liverpool and was replaced by Claudio Ranieri, which gave Sissoko the chance to firmly establish himself in the starting line-up, as the Italian manager quickly became quite fond of the newly-formed defensive midfielder. In his second season at the Estadio Mestalla, Sissoko played 21 matches in the Spanish League, and made himself known to the world by his performances in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League. In the summer of 2005, Sissoko was signed by Premier League club Liverpool. In two seasons with Valencia, Sissoko totaled 63 appearances.


Sissoko moved from Valencia to Liverpool F.C. in the summer of 2005 for a fee reported at £5.3 million. Fans of Valencia were devastated when the player they affectionately refer to as "Black Gold" decided to move on. He had been expected to sign for Liverpool's rivals Everton F.C. but ultimately plumped for the opportunity to work again with former Valencia boss, Rafael Benítez. Liverpool manager Benítez showered praise upon him when he said Sissoko possessed "incredible ability for his age" and similar qualities to Frenchman Patrick Vieira.[1] His early career, like Vieira's, was marked with disciplinary problems as he tends to pick up yellow cards for late or reckless tackles. However, his fierce competitiveness was effective for Liverpool, and he soon became something of a fan's favourite as shown in the tribute by Liverpool fans in the form of a large Mali flag with the Scouse phrase "Momo is Boss" adorning it. There were fears for Sissoko's eyesight in his right eye after his retina was severely damaged after he was accidentally kicked in the head by S.L. Benfica's Beto in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League knockout round tie in February 2006. Sissoko, however, made a recovery and returned in the 6th round of the FA Cup against Birmingham City wearing a pair of goggles, where Liverpool won the game 7–0. He was awarded the MMOTY award in May 2006. He went on to play the full match as Liverpool won the 2006 FA Cup Final on penalties over West Ham. The 2006–2007 season got off to a flying start for Sissoko with victory for Liverpool in the FA Community Shield and Sissoko taking the man of the match award. Sissoko's season had been put on hold due to an arm injury he suffered at Birmingham City in the Carling Cup in early November. On 29 January 2007, it was announced that Sissoko would be fully fit for Liverpool's local derby match against Everton on 3 February 2007.[2] However, he made his comeback from injury by playing against Newcastle United in a game which Liverpool lost 2–1. Sissoko's first real test after coming back from injury was in the UEFA Champions League against FC Barcelona, the current title-holders at the time. Sissoko was awarded the man of the match award by UEFA. However, for the remainder of the season, he would compete for the holding position in the centre of Liverpool's midfield with newly arrived Argentine, Javier Mascherano. He would be largely unsuccessful, and Mascherano started in the 2007 UEFA Champions League Final ahead of Sissoko. This led to people questioning whether he would leave Liverpool, with notable clubs such as Juventus F.C. and FC Barcelona reportedly interested. However, on June 28, Sissoko signed a contract to extend his Liverpool career a further four years, keeping him at Liverpool until 2011. It was later revealed that Sissoko had indeed received an offer from Juventus, but he turned them down to remain at Liverpool.[3]. On 25 August 2007, in a match against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, Sissoko started in place of the injured Steven Gerrard in Liverpool's central midfield. In the match, Sissoko finally scored his first ever competitive goal in his club career, a long-range first-time effort from 25 yards out, assisted by Andriy Voronin.[4] It was Sissoko's first domestic league goal in his career, in his 75th appearance for the club. The goal also marked Liverpool's 7000th goal in league football. He remained at Liverpool for the first portion of the 2007–2008 season, however in January 2008, Sissoko transferred to Italian giants, Juventus FC where he would team up with former coach Claudio Ranieri, who at the time was at the helm of Juventus. With the English side, Sissoko made 80 official appearances.


On 29 January 2008, Liverpool confirmed the sale of Sissoko to Juventus for a fee of €11 million. He made his first appearance for the club on 3 February 2008, coming in as a 67th minute substitution for Tiago in a Serie A fixture versus Cagliari Calcio. Sissoko scored his first goal for Juventus on 2 March 2008, the equalizer against bitter rivals Fiorentina. During the first half of the 2008–09 season, he formed a partnership with youngster Claudio Marchisio in centre midfield in Claudio Ranieri's 4–4–2 formation and had a good run of results until injury broke up their partnership. He has since been a regular in defensive midfield for the Turin side.

International career

Mohamed Sissoko, born in Mont-Saint-Aignan, France was eligible to play for the French national football team, however, Momo opted to play international football with his native country, Mali. Sissoko obtained his first international call-up in 2004, and has appeared for his country in all of the African Cup of Nations, since then. He has also featured in FIFA World Cup qualifiers for both 2006 and 2010. Sissoko has formed a very solid midfield for his country along with Real Madrid hardman Mahamadou Diarra, and Barcelona ace, Seydou Keita. Sissoko has made 26 official appearances for Mali, and has scored 2 goals.

Personal life

Sissoko is the nephew of former African Footballer of the Year Salif Keïta[5], who, like Sissoko, played for Mali and Valencia CF. Salif Keita is also the uncle of FC Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita. Both Sissoko and Seydou Keita play similar roles as hard-tackling central defensive midfielders. Sissoko is sometimes referred to as "the Black Ninja" for his tenacious tackling and work rate.[6]. He is of no relation to football player Moussa Sissoko who plays for Toulouse Football Club.

Career statistics

As of 2010 1212
Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
France League Coupe de France Coupe de la Ligue Europe Total
2002–03 Auxerre Ligue 1
Spain League Copa del Rey Copa de la Liga Europe Total
2003–04 Valencia La Liga 21 0 4 0
9 1 34 1
2004–05 24 0 0 0 5 0 29 0
Total Spain 45 0 4 0 14 1 63 1
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
2005–06 Liverpool Premier League 26 0 6 0 0 0 13 0 45 0
2006–07 16 0 0 0 2 0 10 0 28 0
2007–08 9 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 10 1
Total England 51 1 6 0 2 0 24 0 83 1
Italy League Coppa Italia League Cup Europe Total
2007–08 Juventus Serie A 15 1 0 0
0 0 15 1
2008–09 21 2 3 0 8 0 32 2
2009–10 17 0 1 0 6 0 24 0
2010–11 11 0 0 0 9 0 20 0
Total Italy 64 3 4 0 23 0 72 3
Career total 160 4 14 0 2 0 61 1 229 5


Spain Valencia
England Liverpool
Italy Juventus

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