Swedish Talent Jagne Talks Family, Zlatan And His Everton Ambitions

Everton Under-23s are in action against Blackburn Rovers on Friday night (kick-off 7pm GMT) and we'll have coverage of the game via our live blog on evertonfc.com, as well as a full report and reaction from the Premier League 2 clash.

Ahead of the match we caught with the young Blues' latest recruit, Swedish youth international Imam Jagne...

"Seriously, I’m not good at answering this question!” replies Imam Jagne, who has just been asked by evertonfc.com to describe his main qualities as a footballer.

“I’m sorry, I just can’t do it!”

The 17-year-old’s self-deprecating words reflect that of a young man who remains firmly grounded and, later in this interview, he will explain why he feels Everton is the perfect match for his character.

In conversation, Jagne is unfailingly polite and boasts a natural warmth and youthful enthusiasm – qualities which should not mask his competitive fire, however.

“One thing I can assure you is every time I’m on the pitch – whether it’s in the first seconds or after 90 minutes – I am always going to be giving 110 per cent,” says Jagne, who joined Everton from BK Hacken in his Swedish homeland last month.

“My ambition is always to win.”

This burning hunger to succeed is underlined when the midfielder, who only turned 17 in October, discusses the challenges of moving away from his family at such a young age.

“It’s not easy but, if this is the cost of becoming a top player, then it is no problem,” he explains, in word-perfect English.

“I’ve got a little brother who is only 11. I have been with him since the day he was born, so being apart is hard for both me and him.

“But here at Everton, the environment is so good.

“They have let me know, if I need anything, they are absolutely there for me.

“With how they’ve looked after me, the Club has made my family comfortable back home. It is such a caring club, with very humble people.

“I do everything for my family. And if they are comfortable, then I am happy.”

Jagne has represented Sweden at Under-17 level, having moved to the country from The Gambia aged five, and already has one senior club appearance to his name.

He made his BK Hacken debut in 2019 aged just 16 years and 31 days, becoming the first player born in 2003 to play in the Swedish top-flight.

Jagne says his development has been underpinned by an unrelenting desire to improve – “football has been everything to me since I was a little kid”.

The midfielder also reveals the Spanish World Cup winner he counts as a childhood idol.

“The player I loved the most was Andres Iniesta. He is unbelievable. Of course, there is Lionel Messi, too, but we know he is not human! Of the humans, it was Iniesta for me.”

Jagne explains how the bonafide football superstar from his home country is also held in a certain awe.

“People talk about Zlatan... ‘He is arrogant, he says this, he says that...’ But everything he says, he does it on the pitch.

“He lives up to it and you have to respect him. He’s 39 years old and he’s the top scorer in Serie A, ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo! He can do whatever he wants.

“If he wanted to be the king of Sweden, he probably could!”

Ahead of Everton Under-23s’ clash at Blackburn on Friday night Jagne has made three Premier League 2 appearances for David Unsworth’s side.

The teenager is just over six weeks into his Everton career, but outlines how the elite environment at the Club has already helped him progress his game.

“The football here is more aggressive than in Sweden,” he says.

“That is a positive thing for me. It will develop me physically and help me make good decisions faster.

“I feel like the coaches believe in me so much.

“Unsy, Franny [Jeffers] and John [Ebbrell] are brilliant. If there is anything I don’t understand, I know I can go to them directly and ask them.

“I just want to learn as much as I can from them and my teammates.

“I am more than convinced I made the right decision to come to Everton.”