Hartpury strike sensation, Mustapha Bundu, has become the College’s latest top level professional footballer after signing for Danish Superliga side, AGF Aarhus.
Aarhus is the second largest city in Denmark and AGF have won the Danish Football Championship five times and the Danish Cup a record nine times, as well as having a proud European record. Winger Bundu, 19, will join a number of international superstars at the club, including Daniel Pedersen and Steffen Rasmussen.
He has signed a one-year contract for the club with an option to extend, after impressing in a series of training sessions. Bundu had trained with Chelsea Under-21s in December 2015 and had caught the eye of a number of top level clubs throughout Europe.
He only had his first taste of senior football last season, however, when he helped Hereford FC to secure an unprecedented treble alongside four other Hartpury students and staff.
Bundu joined the Bulls in November 2015 and scored 25 goals for them as they secured the Midland Football League (MFL) Premier Division title and won the MFL Cup and the Hereford FA County Cup. They also lost out in the final of the FA Vase at Wembley to Morpeth Town.
Bundu also had his first experience of playing international football while on the BTEC Diploma in Performance and Excellence (Football) programme at Hartpury, representing England Schools Under-18s.
He set up both goals as they defeated Wales in the Centenary Shield and also scored five goals for the Hartpury Under-18s team that represented England in the Roma Caput Mundi tournament in Italy, losing on penalties in the final.
The Sierre Leone talent’s goals were vital in a super season for Hartpury College’s football first team too as they were crowned national champions after their English Schools’ Football Association (ESFA) Boys Colleges Trophy triumph over Myerscough College. He scored a brace in the 4-3 ESFA final win.
He then helped Hartpury’s University Centre team to clinch the BUCS Premier South title last term – the highest league accolade in university football.
Born in the capital of Freetown, Bundu was never without a football growing up. In 2010, he attended trials for the Craig Bellamy Foundation - a charity founded by the ex-Premier League player that offers underprivileged children in Sierra Leone the chance to reach their true potential through football and education.
The striker made an instant impression and made it through the final cut to join the first football academy set up in the country. In the summer of 2011, a 14-year-old Bundu was invited to travel to the UK and train with Welsh side Cardiff City and their Under-15s squad. He followed this up over the next two years with summer spells at Premier League outfits Liverpool and Manchester City.
Despite scholarship offers from America, Bundu remained at the academy, and America’s loss turned out to be Hartpury’s gain.
Bundu said: “Some of the Foundation staff members visited Hartpury and they came back and said that I needed to go there as it is a great pathway to professional football but more importantly a place to get a really good education.
“I could have waited another year to travel Europe and get trials at professional clubs but I asked my parents what they thought and they said I should take the opportunity to come to Hartpury.”
By signing for a top level European club, Bundu follows in the footsteps of other former Hartpury students and talented footballers, Ghana internationals David Accam and Abdul Majeed Waris. While Accam currently plays for Chicago Fire in the MLS in the USA, Waris is contracted to French League One side, FC Lorient.
Bundu arrived at Hartpury in September 2014 and went on to set the college football scene in the UK alight with electrifying performances, spearheading Hartpury’s charge to ESFA cup glory in the 2015-16 season; scoring an incredible 18 goals in just six games in that competition.
He also played a starring role in securing Hartpury’s berth in the English Colleges Football Association (ECFA) National Championships play-off final, where the college agonisingly lost on penalties to Football Academy of Bisham at Notts County’s Meadow Lane despite Bundu scoring a fantastic hat-trick.
He said: “I really enjoyed my time at Hartpury. One of the reasons I chose to come here was because I could also get an education. That is important to me. The whole team have been great and I have been lucky to be a part of a really good squad. We are always helping each other to become better players.
Paul Tassell, Hartpury’s junior football programme manager, said: “Mustapha has an incredible talent and it was always clear he had huge potential.
“He was an invaluable member of our squad and now we wish him well for the next chapter of his footballing journey in Denmark. He will certainly learn from the players around him in that team and playing at that level. We will all be watching his progress closely and wish him all the best for the future.”