It’s a deal for Bill
Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
BILL Antonio keeps on breaking records.
The Dynamos teenage sensation has joined Belgian top-flight side KV Mechelen on a long-term deal.
Antonio was expected to fly out last night to be with his new teammates in the European country.
He is expected to have his medical later on today before putting pen to paper as he starts his journey as a fully-fledged professional footballer at the age of 19.
The Prince Edward prodigy bade farewell to his Dynamos colleagues yesterday and he told the media he was expecting a huge challenge in Belgium.
Antonio passed a three-week audition with KV Mechelen early this month with The Herald exclusively revealing the development a fortnight ago.
There were doubts pertaining to the deal with reports suggesting the winger would be signed in the next transfer window in January, a development that would have thrown everything to chance.
However, Antonio is now expected to put pen to paper just in time before the September 3 transfer deadline in Belgium.
He told the media he owed everything to hard work and was expecting to continue working hard in Belgium.
“Everything you should put God first. I might be going to Europe direct from Dynamos and it’s been God from day one. Praying everyday puts everything into place,” said Antonio.
“It’s quite a remarkable achievement, straight from Zimbabwe to Europe and all I have to say to the Dynamos family is to thank them for all the support, the media, everyone.
“The support has been incredible from the first day and I will never forget the Dynamos family. It was amazing playing in the all-blue kit, it’s something every footballer, every kid wishes.
“And for me, at my age to play for Dynamos, it was something that was beyond even my wildest imagination but you see through God, everything is possible.
“In life, there are many chapters, for me heading to Europe to open another chapter is a dream come true.
“I hope to deliver.
“God never disappoints, you know. Just putting in the work, being attentive at training, everything is possible…”
This is a boy who made his debut for Dynamos last year and has featured in 28 matches where he has scored eight goals and provided 10 assists.
Antonio, who made his top-flight debut last year in the Chibuku Super Cup, only needed three weeks to convince his assessors at KV Mechelen he was good enough for the job.
The speedster was reportedly in explosive form during the trial period, scoring three goals in as many matches.
What even made the whole scenario unique is the fact that Antonio was thrown straight into the fray a day after his arrival in Belgium.
He never showed any signs of weariness and actually hit the target to round-off an entirely impressive performance in the best way possible.
Antonio then showed it wasn’t by fluke when he followed that up with two more polished performances and scoring in each of the two impromptu matches designed to test him.
However, it never looked certain the team would take him on board immediately.
With his stay at Dynamos originally set to end this December and depending on a number of factors, the Belgian team had been thought to have elected to have the Zimbabwean in their books in the next window which is in January 2023.
The Wouter Vrancken’s side have close links with the Glamour Boys and have in previous instances made it clear they would be supporting Dynamos in every way possible.
DeMbare coach Tonderai Ndiraya is a beneficiary of the relationship between the two teams having spent over a month attached at the Belgian club where he got access to modern coaching material two years ago.
DeMbare also received an assortment of equipment in 2020 to help the technical team implement a scientific approach to their methods from the same team.
And Antonio has just become the first player to break into the team’s ranks.
Since making his top-flight bow as an 18-year-old schoolboy last year, Antonio has been a revelation and he is being touted as the next big thing to happen in the country.
After featuring in just eight games for Dynamos, Antonio had distinguished himself as someone who was good enough and former Warriors coach, Norman Mapeza, rewarded him with a call into the national team in a 2022 World Cup qualifier against neighbours South Africa in November last year.
Antonio did not start in that match which Zimbabwe lost 0-1 at the FNB Stadium but made a huge impression after coming on for Khama Billiat in the second half.
He even made the provisional squad for the African Cup of Nations held in Cameroon between January and February this year although he was dropped from the final squad which did duty at the continental football showcase.