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Magaye's Olympic Lesson

Youngster inspired by London 2012 experience.

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Magaye Gueye says taking part in the 2012 London Olympic Games has motivated him to scale new heights with Everton.

The forward was part of the Senegal squad which impressively progressed to the quarter-finals of the tournament before suffering an extra-time defeat against eventual gold medal winners Mexico.

"It’s inspired me being part of the Olympics," the 22-year-old told evertontv. "I learned a lot from the experience because I'd never played in an Olympics before or a World Cup and it was like a World Cup so it was massive for me. I learned a lot from the competition.

"It was a good moment for me to be an Olympian. It was a massive achievement for me and for Senegal."

Gueye only switched his international allegiance to the West African country in the build-up to the tournament after being approached by national team boss Aliou Cisse.

Having previously played for France at various levels from Under-16 to Under-21, the youngster says he was honoured to instead step out for the birth nation of his parents.

"For me to pull on the Senegal shirt for the first time meant a lot because all my family, all the people in Senegal were proud of me and proud that I had joined the Senegal team and that I was playing in the Olympics as well," he said.  

"It was difficult for me because it was my first time with Senegal but I was very, very happy to be in the squad, I enjoyed my time on the pitch and gave 100 per cent, so I am happy."

Magaye GueyeMagaye in action for Senegal

The youngster's debut for the Lions of Teranga came in their opening group game against Team GB at Old Trafford.

Somewhat spoiling the party for a partisan crowd of 72,000, the underdogs battled their way to a 1-1 draw, deservedly levelling late on through Moussa Konaté.

"It was massive," recalls Gueye. "I'm playing in England for Everton and it's the first game for my country. It meant a lot to me. I'm proud of my teammates because I think we did well.

"It was a pleasing result. We only played for a win but to get a good result against GB at Old Trafford was massive."

A shock 2-0 win over Uruguay followed before another 1-1 draw, against the United Arab Emirates, confirmed Senegal's place in the last eight.  

And Gueye added: "It was a tough group but we thought we could qualify. After what we did against Team GB we thought, wow, we can do something. Against Uruguay we didn't think about Uruguay, we just played.

"When an African team is confident they can do good things and that's what we did, that's why we thought we could do something."

Having already stamped their mark on the tournament, Cisse's men caught the eye again in the quarter-finals, overcoming a 2-0 deficit to force extra-time against the highly-fancied Mexicans.

Yet that was where the run was to end. Perhaps exhausted by their efforts over 90 minutes, Senegal shipped a goal either side of the turnaround in the added 30 and the Olympic dream was over.

"We were very, very disappointed you know because we thought we could do well against them," explained Gueye. "We lost the first half 2-0 then came back to 2-2 and we were very disappointed because we gifted them two goals in extra time. After the game everyone was disappointed but I think we did well.

"The fact they went on to win gold makes me more proud of what we did. Mexico is a very good team with very good players. To lose against them in extra time, I don't mind that. I am proud of Senegal because nobody expected us to win against the good countries. I'm very happy."

Now a senior international debut lingers on the horizon for Gueye – a carrot with the World Cup just two years away.

At club level he hopes to follow up his breakthrough 2011/12 campaign with an increased run of game time for the Blues, his aim to make a greater impact on David Moyes’ side as they push to build on last season’s top-seven finish.  

"My objective is to play in the first team for Senegal and to participate in the [2013 African Cup of Nations] qualifying game against the Ivory Coast in September. It's an important game so I have to be ready. After that I hope to play in a World Cup.

"I hope to play more games [for Everton] and be involved and to play well in this team because Everton is a big club and I hope to bring something to the team."  

 

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