By Eddie Chikamhi
Marvelous Nakamba’s stock keeps rising after the Warriors midfielder on Sunday won his first league title in Europe with Belgian giants Club Brugge to join an elite band of Zimbabweans such as Costa Nhamoinesu and legendary goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar who have tasted such glory.
The 24-year-old former Bantu Rovers graduate struck gold in his first season with the Belgian club after joining the Blues last year from modest Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem.
The midfielder, who has been linked with big clubs like Liverpool, is now set for big things with Champions League football on the horizon.
Brugge got themselves an automatic qualification for the group stage of next year’s UEFA Champions League.
Nakamba, who is one of the key players for the Zimbabwe national team, becomes only the third player to win a league title in Europe in the top-flight league and follows in the footsteps of ex-Warriors goalkeeper Grobbelaar and Nhamoinesu.
Grobbelaar won a record six gold medals with Liverpool between 1981 and 1990 and is the most decorated footballer to come out of this country.
He is also one of the most decorated football stars to emerge out of Africa.
Defender Costa Nhamoinesu also struck gold with Czech Republic giants Sparta Praha in the 2013-14 season.
Before the weekend’s success, Nakamba had also won the Dutch Cup last year with Vitesse Arnhem, breaking the club’s 125-year jinx in the process.
And the Zimbabwean international was in the thick of things again on Sunday when his new club reached another milestone by sealing their 15th league title following a 1-1 draw at Standard Liege.
Club Brugge are second only to major rivals Anderlecht who have a record 34 titles.
The Warriors midfield kingpin celebrated his finest hour with the supporters who have warmly welcomed him in the city of Brugge and have showed him so much love since his move from the Netherlands.
Credited for his hard work and fighting spirit, the box-to-box midfielder has grown to become the fans’ favourite and this has helped him settle in the new environment.
Nakamba said after Sunday’s game that Standard gave them a good run for their money after Konstantinos Laifis had them on the back foot with a 11th minute goal before Jelle Vossen equalised towards the end of the first half.
The draw gave them an unassailable four-point lead ahead of closest challenger Standard Liege with one game to go.
Brugge will go into the final game with 46 points, four clear of Standard and six of Anderlecht.
He said the triumph was worth celebrating with the supporters in the city of Brugge which has a population of just under 200 000 people.
“It was a tough game, certainly for me. It was my first play-offs, so I still have to get used to that. A point was enough, but things are never easy at Standard.
“However, the opponent is not important. We play for each other like a ‘marvellous’ team and we play for the fans. It is time to celebrate with the fans in Brugge now and with the fans that joined us today.
They deserve it,” Nakamba told the club’s website.
Nakamba graced the European shores six years ago as a fresh-faced teenager when he signed for French side Nancy.
But he is not the only Zimbabwean who is celebrating success as he has joined the likes of Tino Kadewere who won the Swedish Cup last week with Djurgardens IF.
The Zimbabwean forward also featured when Djurgardens IF beat Malmo 3-0 to secure their spot in next year’s Europa League.
Nakamba has been named in the provisional squad for the COSAFA Cup which is set for South Africa later this month.
Recent reports have linked him with a move to Italian giants Fiorentina.
Nakamba is proving to be a lucky charm for his European clubs after he helped his old Dutch side end 125 years of waiting by winning the country’s main knockout football tournament last season.
He was then traded to Belgium with some even questioning his decision to move to that country.
Now, he is smiling after helping his side to glory in a season which his national team captain, Knowledge Musona’s club KV Oostende, generally struggled to impose themselves in the same league. The Herald