Bangura jumps for joy after winning work permit appeal

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The Independent Online

The Watford midfielder Al Bangura said he "started jumping around my bedroom" after being woken with the news he had been granted a work permit.

The 19-year-old was given permission to stay in the United Kingdom by a Home Office committee following a two-month legal fight. He had been ordered to return to his native Sierra Leone which he fled as a 15-year-old, but appealed against the decision.

When the news came, Bangura was asleep after a morning's training. He said: "I was training that morning and when I got back I was very tired and didn't want to think about it.

"I went to sleep, I always sleep when I am stressed, and then the manager [Adrian Boothroyd] called me to say that it was all over and I was allowed to stay. I started jumping around my bedroom. Then I went out bowling with my friends to celebrate. I won three games."

Bangura has yet to feature for Boothroyd's side this season after being kept out by a broken elbow and an ankle injury, but he hopes to be back by the end of the month and said he wants to repay those who have supported him.

He said: "As far as I was concerned I always remained confident that I would stay and I had a lot of people fighting for me. I just want to be playing football and if I had gone back my career – and my life – would have been over.

"I don't really know yet whether I will get a two- three- or five-year work permit but I have got two years left on my contract here at Watford. I want to thank all the fans for their support and the club for all their help.

"It is going to make a huge difference to my life. Now I just want to get back playing and show everyone who has supported me that it is was worth it."

Watford MP Claire Ward was heavily involved in taking Bangura's appeal to the Home Office and she revealed that the next step was to secure his permanent stay in the country.

She said: "Once you have a work permit you need leave to remain to go with it but we don't anticipate too many problems in obtaining that.

"At the end of his work permit Al will then be in a position to apply for indefinite leave to remain. We have an immigration system that deals with thousands of applications every day and generally good decisions come out of that process.

"But as an MP you should have an opportunity to look at exceptional cases and there were a lot of grounds for that in Al's case."

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