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Victor Wanyama named UN envoy, opens up relationship with Thierry Henry

SPORTS By Rodgers Eshitemi | January 12th 2021


International Footballer Victor Wanyama of Victor Wanyama Foundation present Oumar Sylla (left) Director for the Regional Office for Africa UN-Habitat with a gift after signing a memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations Human Settlements Programme and Victor Wanyama Foundation in Nairobi on Monday, Jan 11, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kenyan international Victor Wanyama has opened up on his special relationship with his current Montreal Impact coach Thierry Henry, terming the Arsenal legend as a great manager.

The Harambee Stars captain had a fairly impressive season last year, scoring two goals on his Major Soccer League (MSL) debut to help the Canadian-based outfit finish ninth in the Eastern Conference.

And with Henry having influenced his decision to join Montreal on a three and half year deal from English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur in March 2020, the defensive midfielder who was yesterday unveiled as the UN-Habitat Goodwill Ambassador in Nairobi, revealed how the Frenchman is a great coach.

“I have got a good relationship with the manager (Thierry Henry). I’m enjoying working with him. He is a good coach and person both on and off the pitch. He is always willing to help you and that is why I feel he is a great coach,” Wanyama told Standard Sports yesterday.

Asked about his new ambassadorial role, Wanyama, whose Victor Wanyama Foundation, has been doing a lot of charity work in the informal settlement as well as supporting needy-bright students said his new role is “more important because it is something that I have been before.”

“I’m glad to have gotten this opportunity. I thank the UN for supporting me and the people in the ghetto. This is a great initiative that we are going to do together and hopefully make a big impact,” the footballer added.

This is Wanyama’s third ambassadorial role in less than three years after serving as Safaricom Limited’s brand ambassador in 2017 and DSTV 2018 FIFA World Cup’s ambassador.

International Footballer Victor Wanyama of Victor Wanyama Foundation and Oumar Sylla (left) Director for the Regional Office for Africa UN-Habitat after signing memorandum of Understanding between United Nations Human Settlements Programme and Victor Wanyama Foundation in Nairobi on Monday, Jan 11, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Though he was non-committal on his retirement plans, Wanyama is pleased with the progress on his multi-million academy project in Ekisumo village in Nambale constituency, Busia County.  

“I don’t believe in retirement because in football there is no retirement. Even if you finish playing, there are a lot of things to do and you can stay on the same field for long. I know what my plans are and I have a lot of things to think about right now, but when time comes, I will let you know,” said Wanyama.

“Work in my academy in Busia is still ongoing and the people working there are doing a great job. I can’t tell when it will be finished but very soon we will have a world class academy with good facilities. My dream since childhood has been to one day give back to society and try to improve on what I didn’t have during my childhood. The biggest thing we lacked then was facilities, but I’m glad through this foundation we are doing it as we try to have the same system we see in Europe here.”

Commenting on Michael Olunga’s much-publicized lucrative move from Japan topflight club Kashiwa Resyol to Qatari champions Al Duhail SC, Wanyama said the 2020 J1 League Most Valuable Player is mature enough to make the right decision.

“In football it is always difficult to try and advise someone who has played the game and knows what’s next in his move. But Olunga is a mature player and he knows what’s next for his career. All of us have ambitions and they cannot be the same. So, I’m supporting him in every step he is going to take and I wish him all the best in whatever move he is going to take,” said Wanyama.

Resyol have reportedly accepted a staggering Sh 806 million offer from Al Duhail.

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