A winger once recorded as the fastest footballer on the planet is the next man into the Kuflink Stadium as ex-England U16 skipper Matthias Fanimo returns to his homeland for the Vanarama National League campaign ahead.
The 29-year-old joins the Fleet after his latest spell in Europe, playing for FC Koper in Slovenia. He has spent the last five years in the Balkans, also living and playing in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia.
Starting out in West Ham’s Academy system, the direct, pacy winger played in the FA and League Cups for the Hammers and earned his first EFL start on loan with Tranmere Rovers.
He gained experience of the English non-league scene with Bishop’s Stortford, Eastleigh, Margate and Hornchurch before moving abroad, signing for Slovenian club Drava Ptuj in 2017. Scoring 19 goals in 29 games for them, he then switched to the Bosnian league, representing Mladost Doboj Kakanj.
A €50,000 fee took him to the nation’s capital and the top division in the country in 2020 when he was signed by Sarajevo (pictured below) and he scored 10 goals in his first season, finishing as runner-up in the Bosnian Premier League and winning the national cup. He also tasted European football, featuring in a play-off against Celtic.
He began last year in Croatia with Slaven Koprivnica playing against familiar names such as Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split before moving back to Slovenia with top-flight outfit FC Koper.
Fanimo skippered the England U16 side to Victory Cup success in his youth and also played for the U17s and U18s alongside ex-Fleet defender Sam Magri and future Premier League stars such as Raheem Sterling, Jordan Pickford, James Ward-Prowse, Nathaniel Chalobah, John Lundstram and Nathan Redmond.
Like his new Fleet teammate David Amoo, one of Fanimo’s key attributes is his pace and he was once described as “the fastest footballer on the planet” after a 9.8 metres-per-second sprint was tracked while he was wearing a GPS device!
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