ENGLAND-born Tendayi Darikwa has celebrated his side’s recent promotion into the English League One by declaring interest to play for the Zimbabwe Warriors.
BY MICHAEL MADYIRA
The 22-year-old winger who is born to a Zimbabwean father and British mother was torn between representing England and the Warriors but has now finally made up his mind.
He was keen to play for Zimbabwe a few years ago, but after allegedly being asked to pay a US$5 000 “processing fee” by a former Zifa official, he was forced to reconsider his decision.
This was followed by interest on him by Merseyside foes Liverpool and Everton as his England chances were slowly increasing last year when former Manchester United manager David Moyes seriously pursued him for a January swop.
But with pressure for big mid-season buys amid poor form at Old Trafford, Moyes rested his interest on the player whom he had long tracked since his Everton days.
Darikwa maintained the form that attracted Moyes and helped Chesterfield earn League One promotion in the just-ended season.
He took part in 41 matches, in the process scoring three goals and help Chesterfield finish the season atop.
Now set to ply his trade two tiers below the English Premier League, Darikwa expressed need for an international career and has chosen Zimbabwe.
“They [Zifa] do not need me to express interest because I am eligible to represent Zimbabwe so they can call me whenever they want,” Darikwa told Standardsport last week.
“If the FA of Zimbabwe contacts me, I will talk to them. If they want me to play for Zimbabwe, they would contact me because it is not in my hands, it is in theirs.”
The British media last year drew comparisons between him and Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas as well as Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera.
Often employed as a winger, he can also play at right-back.
When he was undecided between Zimbabwe and England last year, he gave a faint hint of pursuing an international career with the Warriors.
“I have never been to Zimbabwe but I follow the national team and the Premier Soccer League. I can see the standards of the Premier Soccer League are good,” he told Standardsport last year.
“I do not know the players except Baz [Onismor Bhasera] because I played against him when he was at Plymouth Argyle but I have never spoken to him. I also know Bradley Pritchard at Charlton Athletic and it would be good if I get hold of him.”
Charlton plays in the English Championship and Gorowa has already thrust Pritchard into his plans in a move that could open doors for Darikwa.
Darikwa joins another England-born Zimbabwean Macauley Bonne in League One.
The Colchester United’s 18-year-old forward Bonne has already made himself available for Zimbabwe.
“Everyone would love to play for their home country. I love Zimbabwe and I go there to visit my grandparents and family. I follow the Zimbabwe Warriors,” said Bonne.
He made his professional debut in the just-ended season and scored the game’s solitary goal in his home debut against Peterborough in a match which Sir Alex Ferguson watched from the stands.
“I was not aware that Sir Alex was watching when I was playing but I am sure my goal gave him something to watch,” he said.
He played 14 games and scored two goals in his maiden season, which was however plagued by a spate of injuries.