Bring Benyu home
By Makomborero Mutimukulu
A Zimbabwean boy has the world at his feet, fans of Scottish side Celtic fans going gaga, and locals wondering why he is not yet playing for the Warriors.
Kundai Leeroy Benyu – born in Camden in London to Zimbabwean parents – made a bold 73-minute statement last Saturday and took his stock to new heights.
A Celtic fan watched the 19-year-old Benyu in the Scottish side’s 0-4 mauling by Lyon in a pre-season friendly last weekend and made a stunning, if not ludicrous, conclusion.
Paddy Celtic (@CELTICGLASGOW_7) suggested that the midfielder is better than Messi, Ronaldo or any fellow playing the beautiful game: “Positive thing is we found out Kundai Benyu is the best player in the world,” he tweeted soon after the game.”
The bloke is unlikely to get believers, even among the Celtic fans, with his Benyu-is-the-best-gospel. Paddy Celtic will likely tell you today that it was the green blood in him that was tweeting.
However, there cannot be debate on the suggestion that Benyu showed his potential against Lyon before making a further impression in the Uefa Champions League qualifier against Linfield in midweek.
Celtic won the European clash 4-0 and Benyu came in as a 74th minute substitute as his team set up a third qualifying round tie with Rosenborg.
During his cameo against Lyon, the 19-year-old did enough to make coach Brendan Rodgers realise that loaning out the player as he had been mulling was a no-brainer.
“Initially the plan was to have him in, thinking he could come in and get an idea of how we work and then go on loan,” the Celtic boss was quoted as saying after the match.
“But I have changed my mind with him over this period of time, just watching him. He is certainly a boy who can contribute for us and he has done very well.
“He has come in and played with a nice little edge. He’s competitive and he has confidence. How he receives the ball is very good. He’s an attacking player who wants to get goals and he’s quite exciting. I thought he was very good for a 19-year-old coming into this environment and, looking at him at close-hand, he has done very well.”
Rodgers also sang the teenager’s praises after he made his Uefa Champions League debut on Wednesday night.
“Young Beni is full of enthusiasm. He is bright and deliberate in his play and he wants to get forward and get in the box. It was just to give him a feel for playing at Celtic Park,” he said.
While playing his way into the international spotlight may have earned Benyu a chance to fight for place at Celtic, the development might further complicate Zifa’s bid to have the player don the Warriors jersey.
The chance to play for England will likely be presented to a player who has repeatedly told local football administrators that he would “love to play for Zimbabwe”.
How Benyu reacts to such overtures is open to speculation.
In other parts of the world such sports stars can some special treatment. Other countries would deliver a passport to his doorstep and send someone influential to play for his motherland.
Warriors’ team manager Wellington Mpandare has been in constant communication with the player and insists Benyu’s heart is with Zimbabwe.
“As of the beginning of this month, when I talked to Kundai and congratulated him for the move to Celtic, his heart was still with the Warriors.
“There are moves being made to ensure that he gets a Zimbabwean passport and they are taking shape. All that is left is for him to fly to Harare and complete the process,” said Mpandare. The Sunday Mail