Ibrahim Diaby would like to play for Manchester City or FC Barcelona someday and his college coach thinks that just might happen.
Marcus DiBernardo, the 2011 NJCAA College Coach of the Year, has had the pleasure of working with Diaby at Monroe College. Diaby excelled at Monroe, one of the top junior college programs in the country, and his coach raved about his potential.
“I see him as a Yaya Toure-type of player. It’s my opinion that he has been overlooked. I have no doubt that he could go into MLS and be like Poku. He has everything it takes, from the skill to the physical to the intelligence.”
It’s not a surprise that Diaby is drawing comparisons to Kwadwo Poku, another former NPSL player. Both players have loads of potential in the professional game. Poku is currently training with Manchester City after notching four goals and seven assists with NYCFC in 2015.
Diaby, who was born in the U.S. but lived in Guinea for 14 years, quietly became one of New York City’s top players. He was named New York City High School Player of the Year after an incredible run at Martin Luther King, Jr. HS. Upon graduation from high school, Diaby chose to go the JUCO route with Monroe and things have been at a meteoric rise ever since.
Diaby became a star in the Cosmos system, playing for the U-23s before winning the NPSL Championship with New York Cosmos B in 2015. Cosmos B actually won the title behind Diaby’s two goals, a performance that earned him PUMA Player of the Game honors. That performance and a strong regular season helped Diaby get an invite to the 2016 NPSL Combine. It’s a great opportunity for him to get some looks from pro scouts and coaches.
He’s already received great reviews from Cosmos B head coach Alecko Eskandarian, someone who knows the demand of the pro game. Eskandarian spent seven seasons in MLS with the likes of D.C. United, Toronto FC, Real Salt Lake, Chivas USA, and the LA Galaxy.
“Ibra is an extremely talented player. He has the tools to play any position on the field and that’s what made him so valuable to us this past season. His skill, toughness, and character are his strongest traits.”
Diaby is a coach’s dream, a player with unlimited skill and the right attitude.
“I am extremely proud of the way Ibra carried himself on a daily basis,” Eskandarian added. “For a young guy, he showed tremendous maturity and leadership throughout the season. He did everything I ever asked of him and it was only fitting for him to have his best game in the finals. He has a bright future ahead of him and it was a pleasure to coach him.”
Many project him as a midfielder in the pros, a player capable of filling a number of roles. He could contribute as a defensive midfielder, wide midfielder, or even an attacking center midfielder.
Perhaps the best part of Diaby’s personality is his humble nature. He constantly gives his teammates credit for their work and praises the program that gave him all of these opportunities.
“Winning the national title with Cosmos B last year was just a great experience because the team was just full of fantastic talent. So it was just an honor to be playing with such talented people, and even more so to be coached by Alecko.”
Being part of an iconic brand like the Cosmos is clearly an added bonus, something Diaby is well aware of.
“Playing for the Cosmos is absolutely fantastic because you are expected to deliver every time. As player it pushes you to work harder and go beyond your limits. For me that can only lead you to become a better player.”
Diaby found himself quite impressed with the quality of competition in the NPSL. He was quick to highlight the amount of talent in the NPSL, saying that there are a lot of young players that deserve a chance to go pro.
This weekend is very important for this Cosmos B standout. It could be the first step in making his dreams of playing in Europe come true.