Ex-Middlesbrough and Norwich striker Kei Kamara has no regrets over England departure

The Columbus Crew star is pleased to be one of the main men back in MLS.

Columbus Crew striker Kei Kamara has told MLSSoccer.com that he has no regrets over how his Middlesbrough spell ended and insists he is pleased to be back in “one of the best leagues in the world”.

Kamara, 30, first began his professional career with the Crew after being drafted ninth overall in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft, before going on to spells with the San Jose Earthquakes, Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City, respectively, scoring a total of 52 goals in 192 regular-reasons games.

His impressive form with latter during the 2012 campaign earned him a three-month loan to then-Premier League side Norwich at the start of 2013 and, while the club would decline their option to make the move permanent, a £900,000 switch to Boro materialised the following September.

However, despite a hot start to life on Teesside, netting four times in his first eight games, the Sierra Leone international would go goalless for the rest of the season and, after falling out of favour with new manager Aitor Karanka in the summer, saw his 11-month stint come to an unceremonious end.

Released from his contract in late-August, Kamara would go on to trial at Wolverhampton Wanderers in September but, with work permit issues blocking the move, soon opted to return to MLS, where the league’s allocation process landed him back with the Crew.

He would be unable to feature in 2014, having moved after the close of the transfer window, but it didn’t take the gregarious front man long to make an impression this season, scoring in the home opener against Toronto FC and delighting fans with one of his now-notorious celebrations.

It was a goal he’d been waiting several months for since his return from England and, while he admits he could have remained at the Riverside Stadium to fight for his place, is excited about being back in the league where he first made a name for himself.

“For me, it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to work out,” he said. “I wasn’t going to just sit there and think, ‘I’m going to keep pushing myself [rather than playing],’ when I know I’m at my prime in my career and I can play in one of the best leagues in the world. MLS is growing, and I’m really excited to be back and continue to be an impact in the league.

“I was itching to play last year in the playoffs,” he continued. “So going into preseason, I just worked hard to prove to the coach that I’m ready to play, I’m ready to be part of the team. At the moment, I’m still trying to do the same thing.”

Columbus are one of the favourites from the Eastern Conference to make MLS Cup this season, with Kamara’s acquisition a big reason.

His new role isn’t just about scoring, though, as the team’s new star striker also becomes one of their most marketable personalities – someone who it’s hoped will help sell season tickets.

“Hopefully it’s going to be bigger; I want it to be bigger,” he said on being in the spotlight. “I want the limelight to be bigger. I don’t mind it; I enjoy all that. I enjoy the media attention; I enjoy everything off the field.”

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