Work five-a-sides, 23-23 draws and friendship: The driving force behind Bournemouth and ex-Portsmouth, Wigan and Swansea winger Jamal Lowe in his Premier League bid

They were five-a-side opponents at work kickabouts, yet bonded by a Football League dream.

Friday, 4th March 2022, 8:00 am

Now Jamal Lowe is knocking on the Premier League door – and close friend Nicke Kabamba watching his remarkable progress with pride.

The duo remain inseparable, while were team-mates at Hampton & Richmond and Pompey as their careers progressed.

It’s an association which began in South Harrow, with Kabamba working as a salesman at Jafvans Car & Van Rental and the family of Lowe’s girlfriend owning a neighbouring business.

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Nicke Kabamba (left) and Jamal Lowe have been team-mates at Hampton & Richmond and Pompey - and remain the best of friends. Picture: Joe Pepler

Although both had previously encountered each other in non-league football, their friendship was established on the Astroturf in a match between the two companies.

These days, Kabamba is on loan at Woking from Northampton, having previously turned out for Pompey, Havant & Waterlooville, Hartlepool and Kilmarnock.

As for the 27-year-old Lowe, he has netted successive match-winning goals for Bournemouth to retain their placing of second in the Championship in pursuit of a Premier League return.

Kabamba told The News: ‘I’m still close with Jamal, I will always be close with him.

Nicke Kabamba made six appearances for Pompey after arriving from Hampton & Richmond in January 2017. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘The first time we met outside football was at a kickabout between two companies.

‘His other half’s family owned a business next to the one I was working for and would play five-a-side against each other.

‘One week word got about that next door had an extra player, a professional. My boss said to me “Well, we’re going to bring a pro footballer as well then”. That was it.

‘It was literally me against Jamal the whole time, we didn’t pass to anyone. It got to the point where it was 23-23 before the game ended!

‘Just imagine the standard, these guys working full-time and there was me and Jamal wearing proper boots on an Astroturf pitch flying into tackles!

‘I knew of him at that point, but that’s the first time we started to talk – and we became friends.

‘You get along with people but in life, when you grow up, get a new job and move away, you can drift apart – but the ones you are closest to that friendship remains.

‘I always knew he would go on and do well, it was the work-rate and hunger, that’s always been there.

‘He took his opportunity at Pompey, then went to Wigan, Swansea and now he’s at Bournemouth, who will be in the Premier League next year. It’s great to see.’

The friends would subsequently both arrive at Hampton & Richmond in the summer of 2015, forming a prolific combination in National League South.

They then arrived at Fratton Park in January 2017, winning the League Two title just three-and-a-half months later.

Kabamba added: ‘At Hampton, sometimes we played in a 4-4-2, but it ended up being a 4-3-3, with Jamal on the left and me down the middle.

‘Brendan Kiernan, who’s now at Walsall, was also in attack alongside us and we were always pushing each other, trying to see who could get the most goals.

‘It was healthy competition, good times which shaped us into the people we are now.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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