The Warrington Rylands manager was happy to recommend St Johnstone’s new striker, Adama Sidibeh, for a big move to the Scottish Premiership.
In fact, Michael Clegg did his best to get the unknown Gambian straight to an ENGLISH top-flight club.
Clegg snapped up the 25-year-old from fellow non-league outfit, Cheadle Heath Nomads, in the summer.
And it didn’t take him long to discover that no only had he picked up a star at that level – he’d signed a forward who had it in him to go all the way to the top of the British game.
“There has been loads of interest in Adama but the truth is, too many people have been put off by his age,” said Clegg.
“He’s 25 but he’s a baby because he’s not played loads of games. He’s only really just come into football over here.
“Loads of people have said that if he was 21 they’d be putting him straight into Category A academies.
“We have had every man and his dog watching and the only negative feedback has been his age.
“If he was four or five years younger they’d all be after him.
“I get on really well with Kevin Nolan at West Ham and phoned him the other month about Adama.
“I said to him ‘Kev, I know you’re West Ham, you’re in the Premier League and you’re going to think I’m bonkers saying this, but you have to come and see this kid!’
“But straight away he just said he’s 25 so there’s no chance.
“I just told him ‘mate, he’s frightening’ – you can toss a ball into the box and he’ll score a header, you can put one in high up with his back to goal and he’ll do a scissors kick.
“Play a ball through and he’ll take it on his instep and then he can break the back of the net if he wants – he’s got everything about him.”
Clegg is convinced that Sidibeh, who has scored 15 goals in the Northern Premiership this season, will be a hit north of the border.
“There is absolutely no way he won’t score up there,” he said. “Our league is tough.
“You have Danny Simpson who won the title at Leicester playing in it and George Boyd who played for Scotland.
“All of these lads have said: ‘Cleggy, who is that kid because he’s special’.
“And he’s not special because he’s a show pony with tricks, he’s special because he’s a killer.
“He’s strong, quick and can finish.
“I just don’t see how any man is going to catch him when a ball goes past them.
“I really don’t see how that happens because Adama is the quickest thing on two legs I’ve ever seen.”
Two-year career pause
Sidibeh arrived in Lancashire for a trial for a Championship club but, after missing two years when Covid struck, he had no option but to drop down the English pyramid.
“He played in Senegal and scored a couple of goals in their cup final,” said Clegg.
“He had offers from clubs in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt but because his mum lived in England he turned them down to come here.
“Everything was closed down during Covid so he lost a couple of years.
“I think what’s happened is that people have had a little Gambian guy turning up at the gates asking ‘hiya mate, can I train with you?’ and nobody has given him a chance.
“So that’s how he ended up at Cheadle, where he played about 12 games and ripped it up – that’s how he came to me in the end.
“I approached him last summer – it was a massive step – he was jumping up four leagues. But you could tell he was more than capable.
“On the first day he nearly retired both my centre-halves.
“I remember walking off after that first session joking with the boys saying ‘this lad will make us a million quid, boys!’
“Someone I know who is clued up about Scottish football told me he’ll be another Didier Agathe – he’ll make such an impact at St Johnstone they’ll have big clubs wanting him within a few months.”