Victor Wanyama almost threw away his football career in exchange for a British Passport.
The Harambee Stars skipper finally managed to force a move away from north Loondon, a place he has called home for the last three seasons when he joined Montreal Impact from Tottenham Hotspur last week.
Before he linked up with Thierry Henry in Canada, Wanyama had become a senior bench-warmer under Jose Mourinho, the man who won a Champions League title with his elder brother McDonald Mariga at Inter Milan.
Wanyama who made just four appearances for Spurs this season, with only nine minutes under the ‘Special One’ before he was let go, had been the subject of transfer speculation for the last two windows, but the deals never materialized.
A move to Belgian side Club Brugge collapsed in the last minutes and not even an allure of playing in the German Bundesliga wasn’t enough to convince the former Southampton star to leave Britain; not until he laid his hands on burgundy-red passport.
Wanyama joined the Saints in 2013 from Celtic and spent three years at Southampton before he left for north London in a KSh1.1 billion deal.
So one may ask-why did Spurs continue to cough out KSh8.5 million a week (KSh436 million annually) for the services of a player they never used despite the fact that he last made meaningful contribution for the side was 2016/17 season before injury sidelined him for the better part of the last two campaigns?
Having resided in the United Kingdom for close to seven years, ‘The Lion of Muthurwa’ had qualified to be a British citizen and he grabbed that chance with both hands.
Leaving the UK before his application was accepted would have been a disastrous move on his push to have a dual citizenship and so he had to forego some things in life, like a possible move to Hertha Berlin or even China where interest kept on trickling in from.
The purported move to Club Brugge was put off in the last minutes as the Kenyan captain fought tooth and nail to remain in England as he was waiting to pick his passport — even when it became apparent that he was no longer wanted at Spurs.
And once he got the document, he quickly took off to the Major League Soccer (MLS), a retiring haven for most players, especially from the EPL, who are nearing their sell-by-date.
With the move to Canada, and the fact that Tanzania Mbwana Samatta is doing well at Aston Villa, the regional bragging rights will definitely shift to Dar es Salaam.
Perhaps we may need to ask; with Wanyama exiting the EPL, which other Kenyan has what it takes to join the world’s most prestigious football league?
So far, the closest answer to this question could lie with Ayub Timbe.
Timbe joined the English Championship side on loan from Beijing Renhe. The good thing is that Reading FC is owned by Yongge Dai, the majority shareholder of Renhe Sports Management Company that also owns Beijing Renhe FC.
The bad thing though, is that Reading is 13 places and 23 points behind leaders Leeds United-meaning that Timbe and his teammates will need a miracle to gain promotion to the top division next season. So this route might take a little longer.
Other than Timbe, Olunga is equally an EPL material but his agents need to have fire in the belly and ship him out of Japan to England.
Olunga has played in Spain where he wrote history as the first Kenyan and a Girona player to have scored a hat trick in the La Liga.
Besides Spain, the striker has also had a taste of European football in Sweden with Djugardens.
While Kenya’s Fifa ranking may prove a hindrance for any possible move, Olunga, who became the first player to score eight goals in a single game in Japanese J-League last season, has all the pedigree to shine in England.
Taylor Onyango might not be a familiar name with most local fans but the 16-year-old Luton-born player who spots a well trimmed Afro, can easily be mistaken for former Manchester United midfielder, Marouane Fellini.
Onyango is the son to Evan Onyango, himself a former rugby player with the Luton. So by that standard alone, Taylor is actually eligible to play for either Kenya or Britain.
Onyango, who is set to turn 17 this year has been at the Everton ranks since he was eight. He has since played for England’s under 17 but should Football Kenya Federation move with speed to convince him to play for his fatherland at the senior level, then sooner than later, Kenya might have a representation at the top of the English league.
Onyango is currently part of the Toffee’s U-23 squad.
Making it to the senior team and of course representing Harambee Stars would be the wish of every Kenyan.