MARVELOUS NAKAMBA’S record-breaking £12 million (about US$14,5 million) transfer move to English Premiership side Aston Villa this week has cheered a nation still reeling from the Warriors’ poor 2019 AFCON showing in Egypt.
The 25-year-old highly-rated midfielder finally realised his dream to play in the world’s most glamourous football league when Villa — who have spent a staggering £113,5 million on new players in recent weeks — added him to their squad roaster.
Reports indicate he will earn around £55 000 (about US$66 760) a week, the biggest weekly pay cheque ever earned by a professional soccer player from this country, in a five-year deal which has overshadowed any involving a Zimbabwean footballer.
We join the nation in congratulating Nakamba for finally providing Zimbabwe with a player in the English Premiership after Benjani Mwaruwari left, the league, seven years ago.
That Villa could secure Nakamba on a five-year deal also shows the confidence that the club have in the player, not just for their immediate assignments in the English Premiership this season, but also for their future.
Experts have always argued that we need many players plying their trade in such top leagues like the English Premiership for us to compete against the very best on the continent.
The experts argue that the advanced training facilities, combined with good coaches in those leagues plus the challenge that comes with playing with, and against, some of the best players in the world, can help transform our stars into better players which, in the long run, will benefit the Warriors.
Nakamba represents the future of the Warriors, post the 2019 AFCON debacle, one of the players many expect the new coach to build his team around as we battle on two fronts — qualifying for the next Nations Cup finals in Cameroon and also trying to make it to the World Cup finals in Qatar.
It’s refreshing to note that a number of the players, who could hold the key for our future, have also secured some big moves to European clubs in recent weeks.
Big centreback Teenage Hadebe is now playing in Turkey after leaving South African giants Kaizer Chiefs while midfielder Marshall Munetsi also quit Super Diski to move to France.
But, it is Nakamba’s story that has dominated the headlines because we don’t usually get players who make the grade to play in the English Premiership.
Until now, only three of our footballers — Bruce Grobbelaar, Peter Ndlovu and Benjani — have emerged from playing on the domestic scene to play for clubs in the English Premiership.
It’s not easy to make the grade there, especially when you are coming from countries like Zimbabwe which do not have a huge global football profile and, that only the very best of our players have made the grade into that league, tells the whole story.
Nakamba has always demonstrated great potential, since arriving in the Netherlands at Dutch side Vittese, whom he helped win the Dutch Cup, and then moving to Belgium where he was pivotal in Club Brugge winning the Belgian league championship.
He always maintained he believed he was a player good enough to play in the English Premiership and, for years, he worked towards fulfilling his dream which, now, has come true.
What Nakamba’s story shows, to thousands, if not millions of our boys nursing dreams of becoming professional footballers who can make it to the biggest of all stages, is that nothing is impossible.
He has given them a hero, a role model, to look up to, for inspiration, as they hope to one day make the transformation from playing the game on our streets to such leagues like the English Premiership where they can earn millions of dollars.
Every nation needs such role models, when it comes to sport, because they inspire all the kids not to give up on their dreams, not to be overwhelmed by the hurdles that stand in their way and not to be deflated, as and when, they hit some obstacles.
That is why we believe Nakamba’s move to Aston Villa is significant for our football and we find it strange that ZIFA, who should have led the celebrations because it could bring value to the Warriors, have not said anything to congratulate him for passing the test.
We hope Nakamba will remain focused, something we never doubted, so that he can show the world he is really as good as we have always believed.
He is unlikely to be overwhelmed by playing against some of the world’s best players because, as he showed in the Champions League in the colours of Belgian side Club Brugge, he can match them pound for pound.
If Nakamba succeeds, and we are sure he will, he will open the doors for more Zimbabwean players to move to such big football leagues.
That is why we believe this is a milestone transfer that should be celebrated by everyone who cares for Zimbabwean football.