Abdelhamid Sabiri left scorched earth in Nuremberg and Paderborn. Now the former German U21 international seems to have found his fortune.

Abdelhamid Sabiri stood in front of the ecstatic Sampdoria fans and enjoyed the moment.

He had just scored the 1:0 in the derby against CFC Genoa – as it turned out later, it was the goal for the victory, which keeper Emil Audero secured with a held penalty in the last minute.

The name Sabiri may ring a bell with many a German football fan: the now 25-year-old has an unflattering past in this country – at the latest when Steffen Baumgart unpacked the verbal axe on 29 October 2020.

The current Cologne coach was then coach of SC Paderborn and reacted to an interview with his former protégé, who had been on the ball for the East Westphalians a season earlier.

Baumgart’s scathing verdict

Sabiri had voiced strong criticism of Baumgart in the Serieamore podcast, noting that he had been on the pitch for three of Paderborn’s four victories. “That’s not such a bad statistic,” he said. Therefore, he “didn’t really understand” why Baumgart didn’t play him more often.

For Sabiri, the spectacular 3:3 that Paderborn had wrested from BVB in those days was an indication of the SCP’s suitability for the Bundesliga – and above all of his own. Yet he was only substituted in the 40th minute of that match and had to endure Dortmund’s comeback after trailing 3-0 at half-time.

Abdelhamid Sabiri after his goal in the derby

“Just this 3:3 showed why we didn’t have the quality, and neither did he,” Baumgart countered afterwards – and then got personal: “I never had the feeling that Hamid helped our team in any way. Hamid doesn’t work for any team, he only works for himself.”

Baumgart’s scathing conclusion about the then 22-year-old: “In retrospect, it was a mistake that we brought him in.”

Sabiri strikes his way into the Premier League

Sabiri, who played five games for the German U21s and was considered a huge talent in his early years, had ticked off before. Having made just nine second division appearances with 1. FC Nürnberg in the 2016/17 season, he felt he was destined for greater things.

It was to be the Premier League – and in order to emphasise his demands for a change, he took sick leave and did not show up for training in the summer of 2017.

Sabiri’s strike had the desired success: he moved to then-promoted Huddersfield at the end of August, which elicited FCN sporting director Andreas Bornemann that it was “the best thing for all concerned under the circumstances”.

For the Moroccan-born player with German citizenship, however, the switch to England turned into a horror trip in which he only made seven appearances in two years and did not score a single goal.

Sabiri’s second Serie A goal

After a year at Paderborn and the Baumgart scolding, the attacking midfielder moved to Italy, to second-tier Ascoli Calcio. In the central Italian province, the highly talented professional slowly regained his footing and impressed, among other things, with free-kick goals from long range.

After 43 games and eleven goals, first division club Sampdoria struck in the winter and lured Sabiri to Serie A – and here, too, he seems to be making his breakthrough. He has made ten appearances in the Samp jersey, and the derby goal was his second.

“Sabiri is still young, what he needs is a dose of confidence,” said Sampdoria coach Marco Giampaolo about his derby hero.

It seems that the former problem professional has found exactly the right coach.