Monday 25 July 2016, 00:19

Djite, a truly multicultural, normal footballer

Although the footballer Bruce Djite does not claim authorship of the quote: “The world is a book, and those who don't travel only read one page”, he might as well, as Augustine of Hippo's saying is one which he has embraced throughout his life. caught up with the multicultural player for a look at his fascinating football life.

Born in the USA, to a father who comes from Côte d’Ivoire and a mother who is Togolese, Djite moved to Australia at an early age. He has also lived in Turkey and China PR and speaks French, English and Turkish. “Yes, that quote is a great one. I heard it somewhere, and it really stuck with me and it is very true. I know a lot of people who are born and bred in one place.

“People who have not had the opportunity to travel much are easily misled. People who do not socialise a lot with others will not understand them.”

True to his belief, Djite has never shied away from different countries and cultures. In fact, his love for the beautiful game stems from a visit to west Africa, during an extended stay in Côte d'Ivoire as a young child. “I was about six years old. We were over there, and I went to school for about six months. Everybody was playing this game. I had just arrived from Australia, and I wanted to enjoy my time there, so I looked for a way to make friends. What is the easiest way to make friends? Be good at sports.

“So I started playing with everybody on the street before school, during school and after school. I really enjoyed it and made a lot of friends. It was typical of many situations in Africa: dirt fields, shoes for goals and a really, really old ball that probably didn't have much leather left on it. But we all had a fantastic time. On the plane I asked my dad if they played this game in Australia. I said I really want to play this game. So I got back and ended up in my local club in the U-7s and progressed from there. That is how it all started.”

Around the world and back Djite progressed well and soon found himself playing professionally for Adelaide United. But he always had the dream of playing abroad and broadening his horizons, so he joined Turkish Super Lig club Genclerbirligi. He also had a loan stint with Diyarbakirspor in the same league.

His career in Turkey was cut short though when Gold Coast United made him one of their big signings and lured him back to Australia. He remained with the club for a season, before returning to his roots and Adelaide United.

Coming across different people really benefits you as a person. I think that it first and foremost gives you a better, well-rounded view of the world.

Djite though, was not yet finished with experiencing different cultures and in 2011 he went on loan to Chinese club Jiangsu Sainty. “One of the best things of football and having a career in football are the experiences and the life experiences that you get. To live in Turkey and to play with Turkish people and other foreigners was amazing.

“The difference in culture between the different countries in which I have played is astounding. Coming across different people really benefits you as a person. I think that it first and foremost gives you a better, well-rounded view of the world. And second to that, obviously experiencing different football was great. To have had the experience of playing against Besiktas in Istanbul and against Galatasaray and Fenerbahce is something that I will never forget.

“It doubled up as a fantastic football experience and a life one. And I can say the same for China.”

Earlier this year the 29-year-old repaid the faith Adelaide United have had in him as he helped the club to a double, winning the A-League Premiership and A-League Championship, thereby giving credence to the nickname his fans and the media have chosen for him: 'Bruce Almighty'.

“I think my nickname Bruce Almighty is just the media making a good news story. I always say, just call me Bruce. I am just a normal guy. The normal guy who is been lucky enough to fulfill his dream of playing professional football. So I am far from Almighty. I have played some poor games in my life, and I don't think anybody called me Almighty after those.

“If I stick to Bruce I can stay quite neutral, that is the way I like it.”