Amadou Macky Diop loves the game that feels like home

Atlanta United 2 forward Amadou Macky Diop loves soccer because it’s a universal language. The game he grew up playing with his brothers and father on the streets of his home country of Senegal is the same game they play in China or at The Proving Ground. 

“The style of play is different, but soccer is soccer,” Diop explained. “You play soccer the same way you’re going to play in China or in India. It’s probably more physical here, but it’s basically the same.”

The similarities helped Diop when he came to college in America, but it’s the ability to score goals that truly drives him. For Diop, it’s not about the recognition that comes with scoring the goals that draws him in. Something bigger than personal fame keeps Diop hungry. 

“I love scoring goals,” Diop said with a smile. “I love giving my people, the fans, the party they deserve.”

Diop is no stranger to standing out though. It’s what got him a spot at Diambars FC, the biggest academy in his home country of Senegal.

“When I was 13, I went to these big trials at Diambars. Every kid in my country wanted to go to this academy, probably over 1,000 kids showed up,” Diop expressed. “They only picked 20 of us. I had to leave my family at 13 and stay at the academy where I stayed until I was 18, until I graduated.”

For Diop, his time at the academy gave him a stepping stone to continue his soccer career in America where he played for Radford University. Diop continued to shine while at Radford. He was named the Big South Freshman of the Year in 2018 and named to the All-Big South First Team after scoring nine goals in 11 matches. Ironically, what drew him to Atlanta was the opportunity to blend in.

“Every team has its own style of play; it’s not the same everywhere. That’s why I chose to come to Atlanta United,” Diop acknowledged. “I really like how they play. They don’t try to get highlights, they play as a team.”

Diop already feels like he fits into the city too. A city he knew a lot about because his mom used to live here but also because it is home to America’s second largest Senegalese population.

“My mom used to live in Atlanta when she was younger. She told me that it’s a really nice city,” Diop reminisced. “There are a lot of my people here. It’s just a city that I could fit into.”

Diop enjoys the freedom and anonymity that a city like Atlanta brings him. He likes visiting the animals at the Georgia Aquarium and sitting at coffee shops. But some aspects of life in America took some getting used to. 

“In America, people are very natural. If you want to do something or say something, no one is going to stop you from saying it,” Diop continued. “In my country, we’re really strict about a lot of things because of our Muslim religion. But here, people are really free, they can do whatever they want and say whatever they want.”

All Diop ever wanted to do in Senegal was play soccer. Some of his earliest memories involve playing with his brothers and his dad. 

“In my country, there are three national sports - soccer, basketball and wrestling. Everyone is pretty much good at those three because that’s all you play when you’re young,” Diop described. “I’ve played soccer since I could walk with my brothers and my dad.”

That same game he played in Senegal, Diop now plays at the Training Ground in Marietta and The Proving Ground in Kennesaw. Although he misses his family and his friends back in Senegal, he can play soccer in Atlanta and feel a little bit closer to home.