ZIMBABWE blew a golden opportunity to lure highly-rated England youth international Tristan Nydam to play for the Warriors when the 18-year-old Arsenal target was denied an opportunity to renew his Zimbabwean passport seven years ago, The Sports Hub has learnt.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The Ipswich Town midfielder, who has reportedly attracted interest from English Premier League giants Arsenal after putting in a string of impressive displays this season, was on Friday rewarded with a new contract to stay with the Championship club until the end of the 2020-21 season.
And as his profile continues to grow, another England-based Zimbabwean footballer Bradley Pritchard has revealed how the country missed out on an opportunity to lure him to play for the Warriors.
Pritchard has been a huge influence in trying to encourage young players based in the UK to consider playing for Zimbabwe.
The 31-year-old former Charlton Athletic, Leyton Orient and Stevenage midfielder shared a screenshot of a recent conversation he had with the teenage prodigy on Friday, where the latter disclosed his frustrations after being denied a local passport after his old one had expired.
In the conversation, Pritchard starts by telling Nydam that he had been tasked by Warriors team manager Wellington Mpandare to enquire if he was interested in representing Zimbabwe.
However, Nydam, who recently pledged his international allegiance to England, said: “I don’t hold a Zimbabwean passport.”
Even though Pritchard told him that he had just been assured by Mpandare that under the new constitution, they would facilitate his papers like what they recently did with the trio of Tendai Darikwa, McCauley Bonne and Kundai Benyu, who made their Warriors debuts last week, Nydan would have none of it.
“When I applied to renew my expired one seven years ago, they denied me. Even under the old Constitution, as long as I am or was under 18 years old I was entitled to hold dual nationality. At the time I did not even hold dual nationality,” he said.
Nydam was born in Harare to Zimbabwean parents, but relocated to England at the age of seven, where he became a schoolboy player with Ipswich Town during the 2013-14 season.
He was in the same Ipswich Town academy side as fellow Zimbabwean, Benyu, who was initially loaned out to English National League side Aldershot Town before completing a big move to Scottish giants Glasgow Celtic.
Nydam recently revealed his intention to represent England at senior level as he looks to progress his career and add to the England U18 and U19 caps he has already won.
“Going forward, it’s going to be England and the three Lions. I was born in Zimbabwe and lived there until I was seven when we moved over here.
“It was all very different there – I played football every night after school and there was plenty of space to do it. It’s a bit more condensed here and the lifestyle is more fast-paced compared to Zimbabwe.
“My mum moved over here and we all moved with her. I was playing Sunday League football for a team called Brooklands when Ipswich spotted me.
“My brother Miguel was the first to be scouted and then me. We were both in the academy for a time but he’s more into coaching these days.
“Miguel was here for two or three years but didn’t get offered a scholarship. He was trying to find another club but couldn’t, so now he’s moved into coaching a bit more. He works at Wivenhoe and in some schools.
“There was a bit of rivalry between us when we were growing up. He used to bully me when we were playing football — every game I used to lose to him and probably still would now.
“We have a younger brother as well and we both try to drive him on, although he has none of it.”
When it comes to role models, Nydam looks no further than ex-England skipper Steven Gerrard, adding: “I wasn’t a Liverpool fan but I was a fan of their captain. Gerrard always stood out for me. I watched him from a very early age and the way he went about his game and how professional he was made me want to be that type of player.
“Gerrard scored his fair share of goals as well and I’d like to add that to my game because I think it’s a massive part of the game. We need to add goals from midfield and hopefully I can do that.”