Shrewsbury winger Abo Eisa on life as a pro – and studying for a degree
TO SAY there’s a lot going on in Abo Eisa’s life right now is an understatement – but he’s loving every minute of it.
The 22-year-old winger fulfilled a dream when he became a professional footballer in January. He joined Shrewsbury from National League South club Wealdstone to follow in the footsteps of older brother Mo, who joined Cheltenham from Greenwich Borough last summer and has starred in League Two this term.
It was also going to be tough for rookie Eisa to break into Shrewsbury’s League One promotion-chasing side, but he’s started to make his mark in the past few weeks.
After a couple of substitute appearances, he marked his full debut with a cracking goal in Shrewsbury’s 1-1 home draw against Bury last weekend.
He netted in the 13th minute and, by a quirk of fate, sibling Mo, 23, netted for Cheltenham in exactly the same minute in their 4-3 defeat at Cambridge!
“Words can’t do justice to how I was feeling,” said Abo. “You want to score that first goal as soon as possible and it’s just happiness and joy all at once.
“You are so eager to prove to the fans and the manager you are capable of coming here and succeeding. There was a lot of emotion and, hopefully, there are many more to come.
“It’s one of those weird things that my brother scored in the same minute.”
But it’s not just on the pitch that Eisa has to be on the ball at present. He is due to complete a degree in biomedical sciences at Brunel University in the next few months.
Combining life as a full-time footballer with his studies in recent months has not been easy.
He said: “When the Shrewsbury chance came up, my parents were saying it would be difficult to play fulltime and do the degree, but I said it was one of those opportunities you have to take and they were both supportive.
“The football workload is different to Non-League and it has been harder. You have to do what you can. I’m just trying to grind through and hopefully I pass. I’m on course for a 2:1 and I would be happy with that.”
Eisa will be hoping success off the pitch can be matched by glory on it. Though hopes of automatic promotion have gone, the thirdplaced Shrews have assured themselves of a play-off spot and will be eager to return to Wembley to make amends after losing in the Checkatrade Trophy final to Lincoln three weeks ago.
“That’s the dream – to reach the Championship,” he said. “Hopefully, I can play a part, but the most important thing is that the club get there. That’s our mission – it’s all about Wembley.”
However the season ends, Eisa will be able to reflect on a remarkable year. It started when brother Mo, who has netted 24 goals this term, got his Football League break at Cheltenham.
“I knew the ability he had,” said Abo, “and it was only a matter of time before he showed that to the Football League. I’m very proud of him.
“It gave me hope, too. I knew that, if he could go from Greenwich Borough to Cheltenham, I could do the same. It’s an opportunity I have been waiting for my whole life. I feel like I’m improving and that Shrewsbury is the right place for me.” Abo came to England as a sevenyear old from Sudan, and it’s no great surprise that he and his brother have attracted the attention of the Sudan FA with their recent exploits. “They have already got in contact with me and my brother,” he said, “but I want to establish myself in the professional game here and do more before I think about international football.” With all that’s going on in his life right now, you can understand his unwillingness to rush into things. Oh, and he’s got his driving test tomorrow…
ROAR TALENT: Shrewsbury’s Abo Eisa celebrates scoring against Bury and, inset, brother Mo enjoys netting for Cheltenham