"I’m not the kind of person to get homesick,” Mo Sagaf says, and while he is talking about Carlisle’s distance from London the sentiment is understandable given how much further he has previously travelled.

Sagaf came to England via Somalia and Tanzania and it is one of the less conventional journeys to Brunton Park. It has also seen the 21-year-old achieve a certain cult status at rapid speed.

The midfielder has chalked up about 11 minutes in a Carlisle shirt but at Barnsley last Tuesday found himself the subject of a supporters’ song. It borrowed the lyrics of Liverpool’s salute to Mo Salah, to the tune of James’ ‘Sit Down’, and anointed Sagaf as United’s “Somalian king”.

“I didn’t know I had a song until  I heard that,” Sagaf says. “I was amazed. Hopefully I can repay them and do well in the team when I come on.”

Sagaf was an unused Carabao Cup substitute at Oakwell as he heard that serenade, and is awaiting his next opportunity after his debut at Swindon, when he capped his cameo with a late goal in Carlisle's 3-2 league defeat.

These are the very early stages of a professional career the young player hopes will flourish. Sagaf has recent non-league experience with Braintree and earned his move to Cumbria after a successful summer trial, having worked his way into the game earlier.

“I was born in Kosmayo [in Somalia] but I was raised in Tanzania,” he says. “It’s been a journey, to be honest.

“I started playing when I was here [in England]. My first team was Leyton, then I got to Dagenham United. When I got to 18 I was in Italy, with Ternana Serie B team, which was quite a good experience.

“I then came back here and had a little thing with Ipswich [under] 23s, for half of the season. Mick McCarthy got me in there.”

Sagaf was not retained at Portman Road but enjoyed his spell under McCarthy. “He’s a big profile manager who has done a lot. It was good.”

Sagaf says he learned about tactical discipline in Italy – “you don’t get to run a lot” – and different demands at Braintree, where he was named the National League’s player of the month for April. “Little stepping stones,” he says.

His development at the Essex club had caught the eye of Crawley, where he was on trial last season, but it was Carlisle who made their intentions clearer this summer. “It was through my agent,” he says of the trial. “I had a phonecall late on the Monday night – ‘there’s a game on Tuesday, can you get to Carlisle?’

“The next morning I had to get the train and I played against Tranmere. It was a great result [a 3-0 win] and as it was my first time with the lads, I had to get to know them through the game, while playing.

“[After that] I felt I was working hard and training great, and was hoping something came out of it. It was a good feeling when I was offered something. Now it’s time to do what I can do best and hopefully get higher.”

What does Sagaf believe he can bring to Carlisle? “I can score goals, that’s for sure. [I have] good vision, like to control the game and work hard, but it’s all about winning – that’s what matters.”

Steven Pressley believes Sagaf offers something different to his other midfielders and a relatively small squad ought to offer opportunities. The player himself, while eager for those chances, accepts he is in the infancy of a professional career he has worked hard to achieve.

“It’s been good so far, but there’s still more to learn,” he says. “I still have to learn from the gaffer, and in training, still teaching me where to be and where not to be.

“I’m still new, and still learning how [our] tactics work. Being on the bench is good to see how the team plays. If I do come on I will do my best to make something out of it.”

Sagaf does not dwell on his goal at Swindon, although he notes the skill of Nathan Thomas in supplying his close-range goal. A better result than a 3-2 defeat would have made it sweeter, he says – while it is now about making the most of all that lies ahead.

“It feels great to be a professional player, with a professional contract,” he says. “As a young kid you have a dream and when you get there it’s a good feeling.

“But I can’t settle down for that. You should always be trying to improve and get higher. That’s my plan.”