Magaye Gueye spent four years with Everton after a transfer from Strasbourg in the summer of 2010, but, by his own admission, the forward rarely hit the heights at Goodison Park.
In an interview originally published in the matchday programme for this month’s meeting with Leeds United, the Frenchman, who left home aged 12 to pursue his football dream, explains why he “didn’t make it with Everton” – and opens up on a rollercoaster career that is receiving a jump-start in Greece following a turbulent and controversial spell at Dinamo Bucharest.
Magaye Gueye wasn’t at Dinamo Bucharest long before the alarms bells started sounding.
One of more than a dozen players charmed into signing by a new Spanish owner promising the world, Gueye was turfed out of his hotel after Dinamo failed to settle a bill.
He’d been in Romania roughly seven weeks – without receiving a wage – when FIFPro, the global players’ union, revealed Dinamo had “not paid multiple players since the start of the season and… put their health and safety at risk by failing to ensure medical staff are present at training”.
The sunlit vision sold by Pablo Cortacero, who bought a majority share in the club in August 2020 and duly vowed to breathe new life into an ailing giant, briskly clouded over.
Dinamo began haemorrhaging personnel. Aleix Garcia, the former Manchester City midfielder, for example, joined at the same time as Gueye, in October 2020, and bailed for Eibar in Spain two months later.
Gueye, meanwhile, launched a case for breach of contract, via FIFA. Any hearing finding in favour of the forward would have resulted in Dinamo paying up the remainder of a two-year deal and Gueye walking away for nothing.
But it didn’t get that far. In February 2021, Gueye was selected to play a cup game against FCSB. Post-match, Dinamo asked external doping control to test their player.
“I was thinking, ‘This is a joke’,” says Gueye, whose sample revealed traces of cocaine.
“The sample showed the amount was next to nothing and not taken voluntarily,” he continues. “That is why my ban was only three months.
“I felt they [Dinamo] didn’t care about me or how I was living.
“I was kicked out of my hotel because they didn’t pay.
“They kept telling me they’d pay my wages but didn’t. I was fighting with them and didn’t want to train.
“I am a sensitive person and can lose my head really fast.
“I met some bad people there. I was in a bad place and that is when stupid things can happen to you.”
It is important to point out, here, that Gueye is not seeking to wash his hands of responsibility, only to provide context for why he began acting out.
To absolve himself of blame would amount to a betrayal of a resilient and accountable personality.
Gueye left home for the academy of RC Strasbourg when he was 12. That experience, initially, was a “nightmare”. Gueye was “scared” when he joined Everton shortly before his 20th birthday and looks only in the mirror when pointing the finger over his departure four years later.
I am a sensitive person and can lose my head really fast. I met some bad people there. I was in a bad place and that is when stupid things can happen to you.
“I knew I had the talent to be a great player at Everton,” says Gueye.
“I went home and cried after my last day. It was not Everton’s fault, it was my fault.
“If you are not at peace, if you have so many problems outside the pitch, it is hard to perform at that high level.
“That’s why I regret that time so much – I couldn’t give my all.”
There, then, is an outline of how, from March last year, Gueye came to be holed up in his Paris apartment, training alone twice a day.
His hunt for a club – conducted without an agent, because “I can trust only myself” – ended in January, when Anagennisi Karditas of the Greek second division recognised the abiding promise of a player who, by his own reckoning, has “grown up”.
“It isn’t even the money, it is the passion to play again,” says Gueye.
“I don’t like anything else and I don’t like doing nothing.
“The only thing I want is to stay in football.”