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Kenya’s great Victor Wanyama announces international football retirement

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 27 – Harambee Stars great Victor Wanyama, the first Kenyan to play in the English Premier League (EPL) on Monday made shocking announcement of retiring from international football after a 14-year stint.

Wanyama, 30, who was stripped off the Harambee Stars captaincy by the then national football team head coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee, handing it to Michael Olunga, said he had to make the difficult decision so that he can hand over to the next generation.

“We have shared great moments together and I am proud to have been your captain and leader. But all good things must come to an end eventually; and after a long consideration, I have made the really difficult decision to retire from international football,” Wanyama, who now plays for Canadian outfit Montreal Impact in the Major League Soccer, announced.

He added; “Time has come to hand over the team to the next generation so that they too can make their mark and help our country reach even greater heights. I hope to return one day to help the federation off the field but until then, I will still be the Harambee Stars’ biggest supporter and I will be cheering you guys on from the sidelines.”

Harambee Stars captain Victor Wanyama urges the crowd on when Kenya played Ethiopia in a 2019 African Cup of Nations Qualifier at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani on October 14, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Wanyama, the defensive midfielder, who has 64 caps and has scored 7 goals for the national football team, made his international debut in 2007 in a friendly against Nigeria and grew up the ladder to be named the Harambee Stars captain by the then head coach Adel Amrouche in 2013, taking over from legendary Dennis Oliech.

“Growing up it was always my dream to get a chance to represent my country. With a great deal of pride, I can say that I have been fortunate to live my dream! From making my debut against Nigeria to captaining the team at the Africa Cup of National finals in Egypt, these past 14 years have been gone beyond what I ever thought possible,” Wanyama said in a statement.-

Harambee Stars skipper Victor Wanyama passionately celebrates after the team earned victory over Tanzania in their Africa Cup of Nations Group C clash in Cairo on June 27, 2019

Wanyama started his career locally in 2006 at the JMJ Youth Academy in Nairobi for two years before briefly playing for Kenyan Premier League sides Nairobi City Stars and AFC Leopards.

On July 11, 2013, Wanyama hit the headlines after he was signed by EPL side Southampton FC from Celtic FC where he stayed for three years in a deal claimed to be worth Ksh 1.8 billion (£12.5 million), becoming the first Kenyan to play in the prestigious league.

Three years later, on June 23, 2016, Wanyama once again hit airwaves after he was signed by EPL top side Tottenham Hotspur from Southampton FC on a five-year contract for a fee of Ksh 1.6 billion (£11 million), becoming the first East African to play in the prestigious league.

Harambee Stars and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Victor Wanyama celebrates after his side’s victory against Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League quarter finals

At Spurs, his biggest achievement was reaching the UEFA Champions League final under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho in the 2018/19 season, losing to Liverpool 2-0.

Still while at the North London side, early in the 2017–18 season, Wanyama injured his knee in the match against Chelsea and was sidelined for over four months.

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He made a return on January 2, 2018, as a substitute in the away match against Swansea City.

His equalizer in Tottenham’s 2–2 draw with Liverpool on 4 February 2018 was voted the Premier League Goal of the Month.

Wanyama picked up a knee injury in a pre-season game of the 2018–19 season against Barcelona.

He made his first start of the season two months later in the EFL Cup game against Watford that Spurs won on penalties.

Harambee Stars skipper Victor Wanyama with his former coach at Montreal Impact, Arsenal legend Thierry Henry

At the end of August 2019 Tottenham had agreed to sell Wanyama to Club Brugge for Ksh1.9 billion (£13 million0, however Wanyama had “concerns over the move” and the deal broke down.

However, on March 2020, Tottenham announced that it had agreed to transfer Wanyama to Major League Soccer club Montreal Impact (now CF Montréal), where he would become a Designated Player.

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