HE is a promising young footballer whose dream is to play for a Scottish team, but unlike his Guinean countryman, namesake and ex-professional player, Mohamed Camara, also known as Mo, has twice been denied a visitor visa to come to the UK to allow him to take part in trials.

The 19-year-old has been resident in the town of Banjul, in The Gambia, since his mother died. He was befriended by Glaswegian John McKnight five years ago when he was in the country on holiday.

McKnight appreciated the teenager’s talent and has watched his skills develop since then. The Scot offered to meet his living expenses to come here and take part in club trials.

However, the Home Office rejected his applications for a visitor visa, according to his lawyer Euan MacKay, without informing him of the decision.

The lawyer said a review had been promised within three months, but now, five months later, he is pursuing a judicial review of the case.

McKnight, who is sponsoring Camara, told The National: “Mo’s been constantly training in The Gambia and has made something of a name for himself.

“He scored nine hat-tricks out of 11 games – he’s a phenomenal player. His speed and ball control are incredible. Everybody I’ve spoken to and shown videos of Mo playing is blown away by him.”

He said several UK clubs had shown interest in seeing Camara play, but efforts to bring him here had been met with a Home Office brick wall.

“Mo’s working in The Gambia but the wages are just pennies. His father died and then his mother died both in their 30s. I just want to help him achieve his dream.

“If he comes across here and takes part in trials and it doesn’t work out, he’ll go back to The Gambia. In his application, he said if the trials were successful he would go back home and apply for the proper visa from there, but there’s just this brick wall from the Home Office.”

MacKay has submitted more than 100 pages of documents in support of Camara’s application, including sworn affidavits, financial statements and a letter from Will McBain, a journalist and videographer who has produced a documentary on talented African footballers, in which Camara plays a starring role.

In a letter supporting his application, McBain wrote: “Mr Camara is the main protagonist of this documentary, having been brought to my attention by European and African football scouts in the region. Mr Camara is expected to go on to play professional football at the highest level by these scouts, and in the opinion of The Gambia’s foremost national football coaches and managers.”

MacKay told The National: “This has been a very frustrating process for Mo, as all he wants to do is get over to Scotland and get the chance to show off his talent, and when that pays off, go back and make the appropriate visa application. He meets the rules as a visitor, for closed door trials, yet it has dragged on for a year now and we now have had two decisions withdrawn for reconsideration.

“It’s symptomatic of the problems with visit visas that for so many applicants they are presumed, from the start, ‘not to be a genuine visitor’. The sense we get is of the substance of the application, and what is said on behalf of applicants, being completely ignored. There is absolutely no reason for a talented footballer to come here and overstay just to enter into the hostile environment that is the UK immigration system, and jeopardise their career.

“There does need to be a conversation about the poor decision making in visit visa applications as for many people, they are among the hardest to get, whether to visit family or in cases like Mo’s.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “All UK visa applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with UK immigration rules and guidance.”