Former Norwich City striker Kei Kamara talks about Ebola crisis in his home country of Sierra Leone

Former Canaries striker Kei Kamara. Photo: Paul Chesterton

Former Canaries striker Kei Kamara. Photo: Paul Chesterton - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Ex-Norwich City striker Kei Kamara says the deadly Ebola out-break has left his home country Sierra Leone like something from 'a sci-fi zombie movie'.

Kamara has felt the impact of the tragedy in his playing career, saying fellow nations have been reluctant to play Sierra Leone.

Almost 500 people have died in his country alone, while another 1,600 people have perished from the virus in other West African nations.

'I was there when it broke out,' said Kamara, who joined City on loan in January 2013, although they opted not to take the option of making his transfer permanent.

'People didn't take it that seriously at the time – it's too late now.'

Kamara joined Middlesbrough at the beginning of last season but was released last month. But while he is without a club, he has an international career as captain of his national side – but says Ebola is also having a significant effect on that.

'It's really hard,' he said, in an interview with BBC World Service's Sportsworld programme. 'The last game we were supposed to play I was the only one who arrived in the Seychelles, the rest of the squad were stopped from travelling.'

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Seychelles decided they would rather forfeit the match – and with it any chance of playing in the Africa Cup of Nations – than risk facing Sierra Leone.

Until recently several Ebola-affected countries did not know if they would be allowed to continue their qualifying campaigns.

World Health Organisation certificates for the coaches and a squad assembled entirely from European-based players were both factors in allowing Sierra Leone's match in the Ivory Coast to go ahead, but Kamara knows even that has not satisfied everyone.

'At the moment we're in Ivory Coast and when we say we're from Sierra Leone all they can say is Ebola,' he added. 'People are staying away from us, even though we live in Europe and play there. When we say where we're from they are scared to be close to us.'

Now at the group stage of qualification, Sierra Leone will play their 'home' matches in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

'We are supposed to be at home,' Kamara said. 'We didn't know if CAF (Confederation of African Football) was going to suspend us.

'We don't want to withdraw. We've been working for years to make people not think only about civil war when they think about Sierra Leone.'