There was a time Kei Kamara wasn’t thrilled to be Kansas City-bound, but that wasn’t the case Sunday when he hopped on a plane in England one day after his three-month loan to Norwich City ended.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Kamara, who led Sporting Kansas City in scoring each of the last three seasons, was all smiles Monday at the club’s Swope Park training facility.
“I went over there to really prove myself, live my dream and show that I can play in England,” Kamara said.
By all accounts, Kamara acquitted himself well with the Canaries, scoring a goal and adding an assist in 11 games, including seven starts in the English Premier League.
If Kamara was disappointed that Norwich City, which remains in danger of relegation from England’s top league, didn’t exercise its option to retain him on a full transfer, he didn’t show it during his first day back with a Sporting KC squad he’s come to regard as family in a town he now calls home.
“I was a little concerned before I talked to him because I wanted to see what his reaction would be, but he was tremendous,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. “His attitude was perfect. He was like, ‘Look, I’m excited. I’m coming home. I’m ready. I’m getting on the first flight (Sunday).’ It’s a great situation.”
Kamara was set to have a physical Monday, then rejoin Sporting KC for training Tuesday. It’s possible he’ll even make the game-day roster against Seattle Sounders FC at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Sporting Park.
“He’s definitely excited to be back in KC and we are (excited), but I know nobody else in the league is,” forward C.J. Sapong said. “I thought he was going to be gone for good, but that doesn’t mean we’re not happy to have him back. He brings a lot to our team both on and off the field.”
Interest from other overseas clubs in Kamara’s services remains high, so the possibility of a summer transfer still looms. But if he never plays in the Premiership again, he’ll always have the memory of the game-tying goal he scored in the 84th minute during a 2-1 win Feb. 23 against Everton.
“Scoring a goal at home against Everton, against Tim Howard — it was amazing,” Kamara said.
It was Norwich City’s first win against Everton since 1994.
“I found out all the history about it after the game, but it was something I will never forget,” Kamara said.
He’ll also never forget the reception he received from the Canaries’ fans.
“I think I held my own,” Kamara said. “It wasn’t easy, but at the same time it was a different experience. The reason why I enjoyed it so much was from my first game when I stepped on the field in Norwich City at Carrow Road, the fans showed me so much love.”
Of course, Kamara’s eager to feel the love back at Sporting Park as well.
“I expect a lot of heart-shaped hands going around the stands,” Kamara said. “It’s a place where people love you, so I can’t really do wrong. Coming back for a home game, it doesn’t matter if I’m in the 18 or not, just being in that stadium I’m going to feed off the energy and I’m going to love it.”
Acquired in a late-season trade with the Houston Dynamo in 2009, Kamara — who has 31 goals and 18 assists in 98 appearances with the club — initially was reluctant to come play for Sporting KC, but it became the perfect place for the Sierra Leone international to grow as a player and person.
“Since that time, my mentality changed about the whole city and the family they have here,” Kamara said. “For me, it’s a positive coming back here.”