NAIROBI, Kenya, November 8- With scouts from big clubs including Manchester United watching, Harambee Stars midfielder, Victor Wanyama, picked the opportune moment to inflate his price and enter Celtic folklore by striking against Barcelona.
The English and Scottish press have cranked up the acclaim for the Kenyan midfielder who rose highest to head Celtic to the lead after 21 minutes to bring the raucous Parkhead to its feet in mad ecstasy.
Teenager Tony Watt raced to score the second in the 83rd before the revered Lionel Messi finally struck in added time for the memorable 2-1 result.
“From Mulgrew’s corner, Wanyama bulleted a fierce header past Victor Valdés. Lennon later admitted he had spotted a Barcelona weakness at defending corner kicks elsewhere in their Group G campaign.
“The goal was fitting reward for Wanyama, whose fine midfield play had earned Celtic rare possession in the opponents’ last third. He was to enjoy an outstanding night’s work in front of scouts from England, including Manchester United,” The Guardian reported.
“This is unbelievable. We have beaten one of the best teams in the world,” the popular tabloid, The Sun quoted Wanyama saying post match.
“Lisbon is the scene of the club’s greatest ever night, of course, the 1967 European Cup final. This was hardly that but it was something else in the context of modern economics.
“Victor Wanyama, scorer of the hosts’ 21st-minute opener, wears No 67; he cost just £900,000 (Sh123.3m) when he arrived from Belgium last year. The 21-year-old Kenyan is worth considerably more now,” the Daily Mail added.
“Celtic had thought about the goal, the powerful Wanyama making his way to the far post to meet a Charlie Mulgrew corner directed there. Wanyama was under pressure but his header was strong enough to beat Victor Valdes. Parkhead went wild. Crucially Forster kept his head,” the Mail went on.
Across the border, The Scotsman cited Bhoys boss, Neil Lennon saying, “We do prepare the team as best we can. We felt they were vulnerable from corners at the back post and we left half the box empty, hoping that Wanyama or Mikael Lustig could exploit that.”
“Celtic Park witnessed one of its greatest nights as goals from Victor Wanyama and substitute Tony Watt gave the home side a momentous Champions League victory over Barcelona.
“It was a Group G clash that the Hoops were not supposed to win but the east end of Glasgow exploded in the 21st minute when midfielder Wanyama headed in from a Charlie Mulgrew corner,” the Daily Record echoed.
Lennon has valued Wanyama who joined his team from Belgian side Beerschot at 25 million pounds (Sh3.245b), easily the highest ever pricing placed on a Kenyan football.
“I am delighted to sign for Celtic Football Club. It has always been a dream of mine to play for a club like Celtic.
“After reading the club’s incredible history I have chosen 67 as my squad number to show appreciation to the 1967 squad. My ambition at Celtic is to win many trophies like the Lisbon Lions,” the Stars midfielder said upon signing for the Hoops.
His agent Rob Moore has been quick to hawk the player around big clubs in Europe following his explosion into a key midfielder in his time at Celtic after Wanyama rejected the offer of a new contract.
“Victor has informed Celtic the contract offer fell short of his expectations. There were a number of aspects that fell short – he turned it down. He is very happy with the job he is doing at the moment. He is a great professional and his commitment cannot be questioned.
“But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that he lost great earning potential in the summer,” Moore said last month.
After nullifying the threat of the likes of Messi, along with Xavi and Iniesta, Wanyama has become a player that will be much “sought after, lauded, respected and praised to the heavens,” as ESPN’s Andy Muirhead aptly described.