Soccer-Roma teenager Afena-Gyan plays down apparent racist remark


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Europa Conference League - Group C - AS Roma v Bodo/Glimt - Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy - November 4, 2021 AS Roma coach Jose Mourinho reacts REUTERS/Alberto Lingria

ROME (Reuters) - The heart-warming moment AS Roma manager Jose Mourinho gifted Felix Afena-Gyan a new pair of trainers after his two goals as a substitute at Genoa in Serie A on Sunday was overshadowed by an apparent racist remark made by somebody in the room.

In a video posted online by the Ghanaian forward on Monday, an unidentified man off-camera can be heard saying in Italian "there are bananas inside" as the 18-year-old unpacked the box given to him by Mourinho.

Neither Mourinho nor Afena-Gyan, who were speaking in English, reacted to the remark which was made while the striker was unpacking his gift.

The club were not immediately available to comment but Afena-Gyan posted a message on Monday playing down the incident, saying it was a joke about him eating lots of bananas.

"I have been reading a lot of comments about the video I published earlier today of a special moment for me with the coach," he said on Instagram.

"I want to assure you all that I was not offended by the background comment made in the video in any way -- and that I truly believe there was no racist intent.

"Since the first day I arrived at the club I have been welcomed into the family by everyone, who have joked with me like they do all members of the family.

"Because they see that I eat bananas a lot that has become a thing we laugh about sometimes -- and I believe the comment was another example of that."

The video, which was widely shared online, came after Afena-Gyan came off the bench to score two superb goals in Roma's 2-0 Serie A win nL1N2SC0J1 over Genoa on Sunday.

After the match, Mourinho said that he had "promised to buy him (Afena-Gyan) a pair of shoes he likes that cost 800 euros ($899.20)” and the Portuguese coach kept his word.

The teenager, who arrived in Rome from his native Ghana to join the club's Under-19 team in January, only made his senior debut last month and has yet to start a first-team match.

He was brought on for the final 15 minutes against Genoa and made a huge impact, sliding in the opener before firing home a superb long-range strike in stoppage time to send Mourinho’s side up to fifth place in the standings.

“Mourinho is teaching me a lot and I am learning a lot from him. He is someone who has achieved a lot during his career and he is a great person. I am glad to be working with him," Afena-Gyan told the Roma website https://www.asroma.com/en/news/2021/11/Felix-thanks-Mourinho-after-star-turn.

($1 = 0.8897 euros)

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie and Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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