Starting anew Nimely goes to Romania

By Will Unwin
In Manchester City’s history only two Liberians have graced the club, both failing to leave a long-term mark.

When George Weah arrived in 2000 to great fanfare, he was seen as an ageing hero ready to show his class for Joe Royle’s newly-promoted side. Sadly, within a matter of months, the former Ballon d’Or winner had exited Moss Side without a making an impact.

The second striker born in Monrovia to rock up at Platt Lane was the talented teenager, Alex Nimely, a kid with ferocious talent and a fearsome reputation. Coming through the ranks in East Manchester, Nimely was an electric forward who loved to dribble.

Nimely was brought up in a country torn apart by war, something he admits was very difficult, but his talents allowed him to escape
After impressing in the junior ranks at the Etihad, Nimely was rewarded with a four-year deal by Roberto Mancini, having already made his Premier League debut in a 6-1 win at Burnley.

That would be his only top-flight appearance in England and six years later he has signed for Romanian side Timisoara after 12 months without a club.

Despite the remote surroundings of his new team, he is not a complete stranger to them, thanks to an old friend.
“Two or three years ago when Pantilimon was at City, we used to talk a lot, especially about Romanian football, so I blame him a bit. When I arrived Pantilimon’s picture was everywhere in the club – he’s a big hero there.” Nimely explained. “My agent sorted me out the deal to go and play there, as I haven’t played for a while, so I just wanted to get back playing football and do what I do best.”

The former England Under-20 striker is clear why he has made the move to Romania – he just wants to play football, the thing that gives him most pleasure in life. Timisoara could also be the platform to allow him express himself in his preferred position as a centre-forward.

“I spoke to the manager and the people there, and they know what I like to do. The last few weeks I’ve been in training they’ve tried to play me through the middle, so hopefully I can get cracking and scoring some goals.

“Obviously it’s not going to be like City, but it’s a good platform for me to come back to playing football.

“It’s really difficult when you’re doing something you love and then stop. It drains you mentally. So going back on the football pitch and meeting new team-mates is fun. “Nimely’s absence from the game is not a personal choice, as he has suffered from injuries since departing Port Vale following a fractious spell in Staffordshire, where he only played once for the League One side after being spotted by chairman Norman Smurthwaite playing for Coventry on loan.

“I think at Port Vale there were some misunderstandings. It wasn’t a footballing matter, it was something with my agent and the chairman there. There were a lot of contract differences. I went there for three months but I stayed there for a month and had to leave.

“It is (a shame), to some point but I don’t like to talk about matters that have happened in the past. The chairman from Port Vale knew me from Coventry, as he’s a big fan of them. When I was coming back to fitness, he called me, told me I could go there, have some games and get back playing football. There were some disagreements going on with my agent – there were too many things going on outside of football, they couldn’t settle. I couldn’t afford to travel there every day from Manchester, paying my own transportation. It was too difficult.

“The manager there knew me as well. I’d just come back to fitness and it was really unfortunate, it wasn’t his fault, it was more of an issue with the contract.” The striker was disciplined by the club after joining Bolton on a trial period, a deal could not be sorted with the Championship outfit and as his relationship with Port Vale deteriorated, it resulted in Nimely taking the club to tribunal over his registration. “When I was at Port Vale for a couple of weeks, Neil Lennon the former Bolton manager rang me up as he wanted to sign me. I went there for a couple of days but Port Vale wouldn’t allow me to go, it was too complicated.”

Nimely was part of an incredibly successful Manchester City academy team which won the 2008 FA Youth Cup. The likes of Kieran Trippier and Ben Mee both featured heavily in that team but none made successful transitions to the City first-team as the club was in transition from everyone’s second club to moneyed title-winners. As a youngster, Nimely knew what was coming and despite his best efforts he couldn’t force his way back into Roberto Mancini or Manuel Pellegrini’s plans. Nimely seems to resent a lack of opportunity for youngsters, something that has become the norm under the Chilean Pellegrini. “All the years at City I never played in the League Cup or FA Cup, where you give young players the chance to play; I’ve only ever played Premier League or Europa League. Sometimes I couldn’t understand why I never got a chance in the League Cup. My first game for City was in the Premier League and my second was away to Juventus. I did all I could to get a chance to play – in all the years I was at City I tried really hard, but unfortunately with all the big names that came in, it was more difficult for young players.

“He {Pellegrini} really didn’t say anything to me. Usually, I would travel with the first team and then I wouldn’t play and would have to come back play with the reserves, which is tiring. If you get a player you pay £100,000 a week for, unfortunately for a young guy like me, it’s difficult.

“When you’re 18, 19, 20 it’s ok, but at 21, 22 you start to think that you’re missing a lot of games and you need to play football. At City you go on loan for a couple of months and come Nimely appeared in a number of pre-season tours with City. Despite a long association with Manchester City, Nimely saves his fondest memories for his loan spell with Coventry, under manager Andy Thorn in the season they were relegated from the Championship, as playing regularly brought back his enjoyment of the game.

“The best time I had was at Coventry because I played a lot of games and showed people what I could do. Andy Thorn wanted me to go there permanently, he’s a really great guy and was one of few managers who really wanted to make me enjoy my football.”

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Now it’s time for Nimely to prove his talents in west Romania in the hope the early promise can blossom into the player he still can be, but the Liberian doesn’t feel under any scrutiny now he has moved out of the limelight to a country where he is an unknown quantity. Nimely has suffered a number of injuries in his career. “I don’t think it’s about pressure, since I was little I’ve always played with pressure all my career. I think Romania is more about just getting the chance to play every game and show people what you can do. Coming back after a year means it’s more about Alex Nimely, getting back to seeing what he can do, so you need to keep up to that otherwise there could be a problem.”

There are fewer distractions for the striker in Timisoara, something Nimely will benefit from going into the last few months of the season as he hopes to earn an extended deal with the club or elsewhere. “In Romania, I don’t really do anything, I just go training and back to the hotel. There’s not a lot places in Timisoara to go to, maybe the mall or the cinema. “I think it’s better as sometimes in Manchester there’s always things to do and I need to be really focused on my football rather then spend time with my friends. For now, at this stage of my career, I need to be focused on the game.” Few people know who Nimely is in Romania, but he’s hoping living up to his potential will make people remember the name in west Romania and beyond.source: www.itv.com

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