Marking his first Swansea City start with a goal, Bafe Gomis played a key role in the Swans’ 1-0 win over Rotherham United in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night.
The striker proved to be a constant menace to the Millers’ back line, scoring his first goal for the club following his summer switch from Lyon, before being substituted for Wilfried Bony in the 74th minute.
And, in an exclusive interview with our official matchday programme Jack Magazine, the French striker revealed all about his unique approach to preparing for life in South Wales.
Travelling across Europe last season, Bafe Gomis was already contemplating life as a possible Swan.
As he was clocking up air miles with Lyon, Gomis spent his time wisely swotting up on the club who were showing an interest in his services.
The French striker looked up all things Swansea City – from the history of the club to information on the manager and his potential team-mates – all in order to gain a better understanding of the club.
But rather than hitting the books or surfing the Internet, the 29-year-old opted for a rather unique approach.
“I play a lot of Football Manager,” chuckled Gomis, referring to Sports Interactive’s popular football management simulation game.
“During my time with my previous club, we travelled quite a bit for European matches. Therefore, I used my spare time on the plane to play.
“I’ve been playing the game ever since my development stages, but I have found it very helpful in helping me find out more about Swansea.
“Before I signed here, I spent a month playing as Swansea to help me get to know my team-mates – to find out a bit more about them.
“Of course, I also watched video footage to see how the team played, but it is true that the game helped me learn a lot about each of my team-mates’ characteristics – their age, where they used to play and their attributes.
“I also learned about the history of the club. I believe that, when signing for a club, it’s vital that you learn about its history. It was important to know what kind of club Swansea are, their rivalry with Cardiff City, as well as other such things.
“I realised that the manager Garry Monk was a key player for Swansea, who helped the club rise to the top division of English football.
“Since Swansea have followed me for some time, I have followed them too and I was very surprised with the quality and mind-set within this team.
“But, now, it is not a surprise to me, given that Garry Monk is the manager.”
During his virtual managerial exploits, Gomis stepped into the shoes of his new real-life boss and enjoyed plenty of success.
But despite guiding the Swans to their highest Premier League finish, Monk need not worry about being ousted from his place in the Swansea hot seat.
“I didn’t win many trophies, but I worried many top teams in the league and finished the season in eighth position,” smiled Gomis.
“I won many matches against the ‘big clubs’ and, according to the game, I had some good players in the team.
“When I joined the team in Chicago, it didn’t take long for me to notice that this was also true in real-life. I am very happy I made the choice to join Swansea.”
In more ways than one, Gomis’ extensive research of the Swans has paid dividends.
Not only did he learn a lot about the club from a football perspective, but he also came to realise that Swansea City is very much a family-orientated club.
For Bafe, family is key. After all, looking after his loved ones has always been his primary motivation to succeed in football.
“I had a happy childhood, where I grew up in a big family with nine brothers and sisters,” explained the former Saint-Etienne striker.
“My mother would stay at home to take care of us, while my father worked in the public services.
“But the neighbourhood where we lived was situated in a difficult area, and a lot of my friends went down the wrong path.
“Football allowed me to escape that. I always had a dream to be able to leave my neighbourhood and succeed in my passion of football, which is what I have managed to do.
“I wanted to become a professional player as fast as possible, so that I could buy my parents a new house.
“Being a football player in a privileged position, I wanted to make sure my relatives were well looked after. I wanted to move my family out of that difficult area to allow them to live a happy retired life.
“My parents invested a lot, both financially and emotionally, to help me play football.
“Family is important to me, so I wanted to help repay them in any way I could. At the age of 18, I managed to buy them a new house.”
To a great extent, Gomis has moved from one large family to another in joining the Swans.
After the Frenchman’s footballing ability was first spotted by his hometown club Toulon, Gomis went on to join Saint-Etienne, where he spent ten years prior to his €13 million big money move to Ligue 1 giants Lyon.
The French international impressed during his five years with the seven-time French champions before moving abroad for the very first time in his career this summer.
For most players, it would be understandable to think that it might take a while to adjust to life in a new country.
But, thanks to the close-knit feel that encompasses the club and the city of Swansea, Gomis’ transition to life in South Wales has felt seamless for the striker.
“I already feel like a Welshman,” exclaimed Gomis. “I would like to thank all of the staff at the club and my new fans for helping make my integration so much easier.
“This is what promotes the Premier League. All of the clubs take good care of their players, and I am so happy to be a part of it here in Swansea and in the Premier League.”
Considering Bafe is one of nine brothers and sisters, it’s easy to see why he saw the Swans as the perfect family club to join.
And if he can convert his virtual success with the Swans into real-life triumph, Gomis will be sure to feel even further warmth from his new family.
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