Kei Kamara joined Norwich City on loan from MLS side Sportng
Kansas City on 30th January 2013. Norwich had the option for a
pre-negotiated permanent transfer or to return Kamara to Sporting
at the end of the season, in which case Kamara would miss the
first 10 matches of the MLS season. As part of the deal, Kamara's
contract with Major League Soccer was extended.
Kamara was born and raised in Kenema, Sierra Leone's third largest
city. As a teenager, he emigrated to the United States to escape
the civil war in that country, and settled with relatives in Hawthorne,
California, near Los Angeles.
Kamara played college soccer at California State University Dominguez
Hills, where, in his sophomore season, he was named third-team All-American.
Kamara also spent two seasons with Orange County Blue Star in the
USL Premier Development League
Kamara was then chosen by Columbus Crew ninth overall at the
2006 MLS SuperDraft. Prior to the 2008 season, he was traded to
the San Jose Earthquakes in exchange for Brian Carroll. On July
24, 2008 Kamara was traded to the Houston Dynamo for a draft pick
and allocation money. On September 30, 2008 Kamara scored two
goals for MLS champion Houston Dynamo against Mexican club UNAM
Pumas in a CONCACAF Champions League match.
On September 15, 2009 Kamara was traded to Sporting Kansas City
for Abe Thompson and allocation money.
Following several productive seasons with Kansas City which saw
him become one of the most imposing wingers in the league, he
trialled with Stoke City in December 2012 before joining Norwich.
At the time of his switch to Norwich, he had been capped 14 times
by Sierra Leone, scoring twice.
Kamara made his debut for Norwich on 9th February 2013 against
Fulham, coming on as a substitute with four minutes remaining.
He scored his first Norwich goal in the game against Everton which
City won 2-1 on February 23rd 2013. Kamara came on for Luciana
Becchio on 58 minutes with City 1-0 down. Kamara scored the
equaliser on 84 minutes heading home a Robert
Snodgrass corner before Grant Holt
scored the winner in injury time.
He was called up on 13th March 2013 to the Sierre Leone international
squad for the World Cup qualifier against Tunisia at the end of
Kamara returned to the USA on 4th May 2013 following the 2-1
home defeat to Aston Villa in which he came on as substitute.
He had played 11 games for Norwich, scoring one goal.
Kamara left Sporting Kansas City to join Middlesbrough on Transfer
Deadline Day (2nd September 2013) for a fee of £800,000.
Kamara left Boro on 28th August 2014 by mutual consent. Kamara
then had a successful trial with Wolverhampton Wanderers of the
Championship. However, Kamara's work permit renewal application
was declined after Sierra Leone fell to 75th place in the FIFA
World Rankings and Wolverhampton shifted its focus to signing
Yannick Sagbo instead.
On October 7th 2014, he signed for MLS side Columbus Crew but
would officially be added to the roster on January 1st 2015. Because
he was released by Middlesbrough after the 2014 MLS roster freeze,
he would not be able to appear for the Crew until the 2014 Major
League Soccer season ended
On 12th May 2016, Columbus traded Kamara to the New England Revolution for a record fee. One source told ESPN that the amount of targeted and general allocation money involved is in excess of $300,000. Other reports said that New England gave up a war chest full of roster tools, including around $500,000 in allocation money, reportedly a record sum in a league with a $3.67 million soft salary cap; a first-round pick in the 2017 draft; a second-round pick in 2018; an international roster spot for the rest of this season, and a percentage of any future transfer money paid for Kamara if he leaves MLS to play abroad. This was despite Kamara scoring 22 goals the season before and with Columbus struggling in their division. However Kamara had a public spat with the Crew over who should take a penalty and lashed out at teammate Federico Higuin, earning him a one game suspension and fine. His deal with New England will see him earn $1million per season.