Zim stars begin to make their mark again in English football
> Robson Sharuko
Harare – ZIMBABWEAN stars are beginning to make their mark again in English football, almost 45 years since maverick goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar exploded on the scene in the colours of Liverpool, before Peter Ndlovu and Benjani Mwaruwari played their parts at a number of clubs in that country.
The colourful Grobbelaar blazed the trail when he arrived at Liverpool in 1981, from Canadian side Vancouver Whitecaps, and then made 628 appearances for the Reds over 13 years, including 440 in the England’s top-flight league, where he won the League Championship six times, three FA Cups, three League Cups and the European Cup in 1984.
Ndlovu was signed as a tear-away teenage forward by Coventry City, who were then in the English top league, from Highlanders after a two-year period in Zimbabwe’s top-flight league where he won the Player of the Year twice.
He is regarded as one of the best players to play for Coventry City and, at the very peak of his athletic powers, he even attracted the interests of Liverpool.
Benjani arrived in England in 2004, after a big money move from Auxerre to Portsmouth, and during his stay in the country, even played for Manchester City and famously scored on debut in their match against bitter rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Now, a new wave of Zimbabweans are making their mark in English football and, in the past two weeks, two teenagers, who are expected to explode into stars, signed deals with their clubs.
Brendan Galloway, a Zimbabwean star, signed a new improved contract at Premiership club Everton that will keep him at Goodison Park until 2020.
Galloway, who has set his sights on playing for England instead of his native Zimbabwe, impressed as cover for regular leftback, Leighton Baines, when the English international was injured and was called into the England Under-21 side.
The 19-year-old, though, might find himself being pushed from the first team now that Baines is back from injury.
However, Everton believe that he is a long-term prospect and have now decided to give him an improved five-year deal to remain at the club.
“I’m really happy to commit my future here,” he told the club’s official website, after signing his new deal in the presence of his proud parents.
“This is a club that has got so much young talent and is moving forward. It’s great to be able to commit to being a part of that.
“My family came up to watch me sign so it was nice to have them around. They have been with me all the way.”
Galloway made 16 first team appearances for Everton and impressed his coach Roberto Martinez so much that the club decided he was worth the investment for a long-term deal. Another Zimbabwean, Kuda Muskwe, this week signed a two-year professional contract with the English lower league club Rotherham.
The young striker has been in good form for the club’s academy and reserves and even played in the FA Youth Cup.
Nine goals in as many matches persuaded his club that he was ready for a professional contract.
“Kuda is someone who has caught the eye, and we saw him recently in a behind closed doors game and he looked really bright,” manager Neil Redfearn told the club’s official website.
“He is a young player with bags of talent. He is very athletic, he has pace and he is a goal-scorer.
“His record so far this season for the under 18s is excellent, and he is someone who we have identified that can develop.
“I have seen him play in games but the recent behind closed doors match was against really good opposition, and he didn’t look out of place. He is a player that we can look to develop, and it is also nice to have one of our own coming through.
“With the situation that we are in at the moment we have to go with our experience, but the bigger picture is that we want to start bringing through and developing our own players.”