FRENCH Second Division football side Le Havre can count on its man in form, Tino Kadewere who arrived from Sweden last summer. This 23-year-old Zimbabwean international is the most expensive transfer in the club's history but that is not enough to impress him as he has a mission more perilous to complete: it is called Ligue 1.
In France, and particularly in Auxerre , we remember very well one of your compatriots: Benjani Mwaruwari.
Tino Kadewere: I know him very well. Until recently, he was active with an association that helps Zimbabwean players without a contract to find a club. He gave them a helping hand as a coach.
You spoke with him when signing in Le Havre?
Tino Kadewere: Yes, he gave me some tips on how to better understand French football, to adapt to France and to progress. Learn your language as fast as possible for example and integrate me quickly in the group, so that I am not isolated from the rest of the players and I become fully one of them.
Your French adventure could have started a few years ago in Sochaux .
Tino Kadewere: Absolutely. In 2014, I joined a Zimbabwean first division team (Harare City) with whom I played twelve games and scored eight goals. Two clubs then invited me to do a trial: Djurgårdens and Sochaux . I started in Sweden, then I spent a week in France .
Finally, it was Sweden that you chose. Why ?
Tino Kadewere: I was not ready for European football. And then, because of the language barrier. In Sochaux , no one spoke English, while it was the case in Djurgårdens. So, it was the perfect place to acclimatize to Europe.
Is it true that you find Ligue 2 stronger than the Swedish D1?
Tino Kadewere: You know, football is nearly the same everywhere, but the one we practice in France is both very physical and very intense; somewhat different from the one I was used to in the past. In Sweden, I would say that it is more tactical and that the technique is more modern. Please note that this does not mean that French football is devoid of technique; but although it is the physics that dominates. That's why I find the Ligue 2 stronger than the Swedish D1. If you can play in Ligue 2, you can play everywhere.
What kind of player were you in Zimbabwe ?
Tino Kadewere: I was called a complete player because I started in midfield and sometimes on the wings. What I noticed at home was my skills and my speed. But when I arrived in Sweden everything changed because I was relocated to number 9 and I learned to play for the team. Speed, I always have, technical moves too, but I'm focusing more on what the team wants me to do for them. I do not necessarily want to put myself forward. What matters is how I can put what I can do for the benefit of the team's goals.
You once said 'I want everyone to know who Tino is'. So who are you?
Tino Kadewere: I started playing football from the age of seven in the academy my father had in Zimbabwe, and always with boys older than me. Around 10-11 years old, I was already playing in Under-15! Being where I am today is like a dream. For me as for my father. You know, in Zimbabwe, football is not the most recognised (professional) discipline. And yet, it is a country full of young talents. But if you want to break through, you have to hang on and sometimes play for your name so that it is known throughout the country.
Twenty million Swedish kroner, that's two million euros and it is the largest amount ever spent by Le Havre to attract the services of a player. How do we live with this label stuck on the forehead?
Tino Kadewere: This brings pressure sometimes difficult to manage. But when you're a professional, you have to get used to it. It's in my head that this kind of thing happens, and I have to make sure that it does not affect my performance on the field.
Benjani advised you to put yourself very quickly in French to facilitate your integration. How does it go on that side?
Tino Kadewere: As soon as I arrived, I had a teacher who taught me almost every day. Sometimes from 8 to 20 hours! Today, I understand when the coach gives his instructions and that the players discuss between them. The only thing that remains difficult for me is when people are talking very fast. But otherwise, I understand the essential. -- So Foot.com