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Bolton Nuts » BWFC » Bolton Wanderers News » "I'm no stereotype" - New boy Faal's out to stand tall at Wanderers

"I'm no stereotype" - New boy Faal's out to stand tall at Wanderers

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karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
Whilst not quite the lofty height of Peter Crouch, Wanderers’ new 6ft 5ins striker Muhammadu Faal accepts he stands out in the crowd.

He was plenty noticeable in non-league football, too, but more for his prolific goalscoring at Enfield which also caught the attention of the Bolton Wanderers scouts.

Faal – who worked coaching children in a pupil referral unit before signing his first professional deal with the Whites this week – does not appear, on the surface, to be a run-of-the-mill target man at all.

But he is happy to go along with the façade, just as long as it buys him an advantage against opposition defences.

“I wouldn’t say I am a target man at all, really, but that’s fine,” he told The Bolton News. “If players want to look at me and think all I’ll be doing is heading the ball and holding it up, then maybe that works to my advantage. I can do a lot more.

“I’d like to think I’m quick, I’m decent with my feet, like to link up, and I have shown I can score goals.

“I’ll use any advantage that I can get on the pitch to try and score goals and win games, it’s the best way to be.”

Defender Zat Knight, at 197cm or 6ft 7ins, holds the distinction of being the tallest Bolton Wanderers player on record, although data is primarily aimed at the Premier League era.

The likes of David Wheater, Gary Madine and Donovan Ricketts would get honorary mentions – and let us not forget Yang Changpeng, the striker who trialled at Bolton in 2006 billed as the “Chinese Crouch” who stood nearly 6ft 9ins tall.

But putting the tape measure to one side, Faal has arrived at Bolton with a tall task of his own.

Bridging the gap between non-league football in the ninth tier with Enfield and a relegation scrap in League One with Wanderers is something he insists he can do, but the 22-year-old insists his game is about more than just goals.

“First and foremost it’s about the team,” he said. “I like to be on the ball, of course I like to score goals, and I can’t wait to show the fans what I can do on the pitch.

“Training has been good. It’s definitely a step up but it’s not something that will faze me. I’ll just work hard and continue doing what I’m doing.”

Another aspect of Faal’s backstory which warrants further examination is the fact his big break in football did not come on these shores.

Though born in London, his first foray into the senior game came in the picturesque Italian city of L’Aquila, better known for its rugby team and the devastating earthquake which hit the region in 2009.

Faal had trials for a few professional clubs but had been turning out for Boreham Wood until his Italian adventure began.

“Italy was a good experience,” he said. “It was a different culture, different life. I learned so much out there and grew up as a man.

“It came about after I’d played a trial game my friend had invited me to, and I scored a hat-trick.

“Someone from the club (L’Aquila) kept watching me until – in fact we’re still close now – but I got the offer to go and play in Italy at the age of 18, so I took it.”

Faal spent nearly two years with the club, including a loan spell at San Gregorio, until he decided to come back to English shores.

“The club was in a bit of disarray at the time,” he said. “It wasn’t very stable and not a good environment to play football in anymore, so I decided to come back and play at Dulwich Hamlet.”

In two years, Faal progressed at Dulwich, Kingstonian and finally Enfield, putting together a goalscoring CV of which a string of clubs took keen notice.

Bolton – somewhat surprisingly, given their situation – won the race to sign him, and the striker could now get a debut against Rochdale at Spotland tomorrow.

Asked whether he fancied being dropped straight into the pressure of a local derby and a relegation battle, Faal wasted few words.

“Of course,” he said. “You have to be ready to get your hands dirty.

“It’s a big fight but I don’t feel like it is something we should be afraid of. Just take the challenge and go ahead with it.”

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