Zimbabwe: The Athletic Turn to King Peter

Zimbabwean midfield ace Marvellous Nakamba flanked by fans (file photo).
28 August 2019

When people at The Athletic, the United States' new media sports outlet making waves around the world whose readers have to be paying subscribers, wanted an insight into what Marvelous Nakamba's move means to Zimbabweans, they turned to the King himself.

And, of course, The Herald, too.

Peter Ndlovu, the first African footballer to grace the English Premiership, and the greatest Warrior of all-time, gave them a fine brief.

And, just like others before them, including the Birmingham Mail, they also chose to hear from The Herald.

Yesterday, Gregg Evans, the Aston Villa correspondent at The Athletic published his article under the headline, "Marvelous Nakamba will have the 'whole of Zimbabwe' watching him at Villa -- and his own statue to boot."

The Athletic have been aggressively venturing into the British football market and recruiting some of the country's finest football writers.

And, Evans' article about Nakamba is as fascinating as it is captivating.

"That the midfielder's reach has grown to unfathomable levels, largely because of his wonderful forename, is an added bonus for both his homeland and new club," Evans wrote.

"Of course, Villa's official media channels were going to play on it when they announced the tough-tackling ball-winner to their 1,3 million Twitter followers.

"But, with so much attention already, the pressure is on the middle man to perform -- not only to live up to his tongue-in-cheek description but also to satisfy those back home."

But, asked The Athletic, how is it all playing out in Zimbabwe?

"The people are so happy to see Marvelous, a boy from a modest background, now getting this exciting move," said journalist Robson Sharuko of The Herald, a major Zimbabwean newspaper.

"There's an expectation because he could be our future. He's a strong midfielder who wins the balls and starts off attacks. He will need to get used to the pace of the league because it will be different and he must work on what he's doing when he's not in possession.

"But I'm sure he will be welcomed by the supporters and the people in England. We've got quite a lot of strange names in Zimbabwe. Marvelous is a popular name. It's great that it triggers an interest around the world, but for us, it is very common."

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