Tuesday, 04 May, 2021

Kenya: Why I Am Dumping Football for Politics – Mariga

McDonald Mariga has announced he has quit active football in a decision that brings down the curtains on a glittering career spanning 16-years.

Instead, the 32-year old has joined active politics and is set to contest for the Kibra constituency seat in the forthcoming by-elections in November.

He was on Monday evening unveiled as Jubilee Party’s candidate for the mini-poll.

Earlier on Monday, he had gone to the party’s offices in Parklands for the interviews accompanied by dozens of his supporters donning his political party’s red and yellow colours t-shirts and waving placards which bore messages supporting his candidature.

“I have retired from football and have decided to go and give back to the community,” he told journalists.

Son of football great, retired coach and administrator Noah Wanyama, and also brother to Harambee Stars captain Victor Wanyama, Mariga is considered among the best footballers of his generation.

He also is East Africa’s most successful footballer courtesy of the Uefa Champions League, Italy’s Serie A and Coppa Italia titles he won at Inter Milan under the guidance of famed coach Jose Mourinho in 2011.

In his prime, he was an energetic box-to-box midfielder with a lethal right foot and his style of play entailed bulldozing the midfield with crunch tackles and lung-bursting runs at the centre of the pitch in a style of play likened with former France World Cup winner Patrick Vieira.

Mariga evidently started slowing down five years ago, and never fully recovered from a crucial ligament injury he sustained while playing for Parma in the Italy in 2012.

His football journey to the very top commenced when he caught the eye of European scouts, while representing Kamukunji High School in his teenage years.

The father of one would later commence his football career at Kenyan Premier League side Kenya Breweries (now known as Tusker), before moving to the defunct Kenya Pipeline in Kenya’s top-flight league.

He then transferred to Sweden, initially at third-tier club Enokpings, before getting a better deal at Helsinborgs, a first-tier club in the same country, where he played alongside Swedish great Henrik Larson.

A string of impressive performances earned him a breakthrough move to Parma in 2007 from where he was briefly linked with English sides Manchester United and Manchester City, before Inter came calling.

He has also enjoyed stints at European clubs Latina, Real Sociedad and Real Oviedo.

Critics say he never quite managed to transfer his club form while on national team duty and failed to help Harambee Stars qualify for any major tournament.

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