So determined was Sierra Leone international Mohamed Buya Turay to make an impact with his new Swedish club that he missed his own wedding in July to join Malmo’s pre-season training.
Instead, a few days after posing for pictures in wedding gear in Freetown, Turay was represented at his wedding ceremony in the capital by his brother, a feature which is not uncommon in Islamic marriages.
This is because Malmo unveiled his signing on 22 July, a day after Turay should have been attending his own wedding.
“I wasn’t there because Malmo asked me to come here earlier,” he later told Swedish newspaper Afton Bladet.
“We took the pictures in advance. So it looks like I was there but I wasn’t. My brother had to represent me at the wedding itself.”
But while Turay’s brother could cover for him on his wedding day, he certainly cannot stand in for the forward in the demands of top-level European football.
For the 27-year-old is “delighted” to be back in Sweden after joining the country’s most successful side, so allowing him to chase Europa League glory.
“It’s a dream for me to play in the Europa League for Malmo,” he told BBC Sport Africa.
After exiting Champions League qualifying, Turay helped Malmo reach the Europa League group stage where they are in Group D alongside Sporting Braga of Portugal, German side Union Berlin and Belgium’s Union Saint Gilloise.
He played over an hour in the opening 2-0 defeat at home to Braga but was absent in the 3-2 loss in Belgium, and – after scoring twice in the third qualifying round against Luxembourg’s F91 Dudelange – is still looking for his first goal in the group stage.
Yet that could come as early as Thursday evening, when Malmo host Union Berlin.
‘Some people don’t rate the Swedish league’
Turay knows Swedish football very well, having spent the better part of his club career in the Scandinavian country.
In 2019, while on loan at Djurgardens IF, he won the Allsvenskan title and the league’s golden boot award with 15 goals.
“The Swedish league made me known,” Turay said, and he is keen to further its credentials in return.
For while the country’s top flight may not be rated among the best in Europe, ranked 23rd out of 55 leagues in the coefficients of European governing body Uefa, the 27-year-old has a very different view.
His comments come after he returned to Sweden in July to join champions Malmo on a three-and-half-year deal, having previously left Chinese Super League side Henan Songshan Longmen by mutual consent.
“I know some people don’t rate the Swedish league very high, but they are not in Sweden to feel the tempo and the quality,” he rallied.
“The standard is high and it’s very competitive. If the standard of the league isn’t good and not rated highly, why are Swedish teams playing Champions League and Europa League [group stages] every year?”
Advice for Kallon in China
Turay was part of the Sierra Leone squad at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon early this year, playing in all his side’s three matches against Algeria, Ivory Coast and Equatorial Guinea.
His national team-mate Issa Kallon, who also played at the Nations Cup, joined Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai Port from Dutch side Cambuur just after Turay left China for Malmo.
The forward, who moved to China in 2020 and also turned out for Super League sides Hebei FC and Henan Songshan Longmen, says Kallon must be fully committed on and off the pitch to adapt to his new life in the Asian nation.
“My advice for him is that he has to work harder than anyone in their team to succeed,” he said.
“I am proud of him for the step he has taken to go there. He did a smart move by taking his family with him and that will keep him happy to perform well in the team.
“I know it’s hard to be there without your family. I went through a lot without my family for the past four years, but thank God I am married now.”