ONCE in a while, a young footballer emerges on the scene, whose talent is obvious, whose character is impressive and whose future excites more than just his family, but an entire nation.
A player like teenage star, Tariq Lamptey, is making waves at English Premiership side, Brighton and Hove Albion, and has become one of the most highly-rated young players in the league.
The 19-year-old flying right wingback, who was born in London to Ghanaian parents, has impressed many with his strong showing in the Brighton colours, attracting the interests of football leaders back in the West African country.
Though he plays for the England Under-20 national football team, he remains eligible to play for the Black Stars of Ghana because FIFA allows such young players to switch allegiance when it comes to their senior international football career.
That is why Ghanaian football chiefs believe they could get their man and bring him home to play for their Black Stars.
“In fact, when I was watching him [Lamptey] on TV, the first thing I did was to call a couple of people and it was clear that he will be a good player for our national team, the Black Stars,” Ghana Football Association executive council member, George Amoakoh, told the media this week.
“It is not going to be easy (to get him to switch international allegiance). The national teams department is making serious efforts to get his parents and the boy to agree to play for Ghana.
“Most of the (Ghanaian) players born in Europe, if you want to entice them to come and play for Ghana, it is very difficult. They mostly aspire to play for their country of birth or host countries. Even their parents don’t opt for their children playing for Ghana.”
Here in Zimbabwe, we find ourselves in a similar situation, where a young footballer, with talent that can transform him into a superstar in the game, has exploded on the scene.
Not so much is known, locally, about Jordan Zemura, the 20-year-old flying wing-back who, this week, thrust his name into the heart of discussions, whenever the name of the Warriors, and their future assignments in the AFCON and World Cup qualifiers, has cropped up.
It’s understandable why Zemura, affectionately known as “JZ”, has largely flown under the radar, as he climbed his way up the football ladder. He was born in London, shortly after his parents arrived to resettle in England, and has been quietly going about his business in that country’s football systems.
He started playing football at the age of six and, two years later, he was already on the books of Queens Park Rangers’ academy.
He moved from QPR to spend seven years at Charlton Athletic before, in May last year, completing the switch to Bournemouth.
Of course, with a name like Zemura, he was always going to attract local interest, once he arrived on the big stage, which was the case, when he was promoted into the first team of English Championship side AFC Bournemouth.
The English south coast side, who were relegated from the Premiership at the end of last season, have been rebuilding their squad to try and secure a quick return to the top-flight league.
They brought in a new manager, Jason Tindall, and refreshed their squad, with some of the traditional big name payers being allowed to move, to remain in the Premiership, while they opened a path for their promising youngsters to come to the fore.
Tindall, a former player at the club, appears to have a lot of faith in using these emerging players and summoned Zemura from the bench to play both pre-season matches away to Portuguese giants Benfica and West Ham.
On Wednesday night, Zemura was given his breakthrough when he was named in the starting XI of the Bournemouth side for the Carabao Cup second round match against English Premiership side, Crystal Palace.
The Zimbabwean was outstanding in that game, playing with the composure of a veteran, as they kept out the Crystal Palace attack, in a goalless draw, to force the match into a penalty shoot-out.
Given the responsibility to take one of the penalties, Zemura didn’t let the occasion swallow him as he coolly converted from the spot to help his team win the game and secure a place in the third round.
But, what has really impressed us, the most, about him is his cool head, a character he needs to really convert his talent into the success story that it promises.
And, where others in his position would have rushed to demonise their country, in an era where there are rich pickings that come with attacking Zimbabwe, Zemura showed that he is cut from a different cloth.
Instead, in his finest hour so far, he spoke passionately about his country and why he wants to be a big part of the Warriors in the future.
“The idea of playing for your country is surreal, it’s what you dream of when you’re a kid,’’ he told his club’s website. “Now I’m a bit older, and the opportunity could arise, I’m really excited.
“I’m still humble from how I’ve been raised by my family and they tell me not to think too much about something that hasn’t happened yet.
“If I could pull on the shirt, and represent Zimbabwe, then I’d be thinking what I can achieve, how I can help and give another child in Zimbabwe the inspiration to see what can be done.
“They’re the next generation, and there is talent both there and in England, with players who can represent Zimbabwe. Being at Bournemouth is such a big platform for me and I want to inspire people and see the country do really well.’’
What more can one ask from such a rising star? We also wish you all the best Warrior.