WHEN he signed for South African national first division side FC Cape Town in 2015, he was touted as a typical Yaya Toure kind of player.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
“He’s big‚ strong‚ mobile and a good passer of the ball,” read the statement by the football club.
Yet he was virtually unknown in his own country of birth, Zimbabwe.
He is South African premiership giants Orlando Pirates’ sturdy, defensive linkman Marshall Nyasha Munetsi.
His childhood role model is former Arsenal star Frenchman Patrick Vieira, but to be compared with Toure isn’t such a bad thing either.
“To be compared to Toure is something big for me. Toure and Patrick Vieira are my role models and I think I have a lot of the Ivorian’s attributes in me. With hard work and good coaching, I am sure they will be clearer and I can also be able to reach his level,” the 21-year-old Mabvuku-bred Buccaneers midfielder told The Sports Hub from his South African base.
Munetsi — who never played top-flight football in this country — joined Cape Town FC from the Harare-based Friendly Academy three years ago, before catching the eye at the Buccaneers a year later.
After a loan spell at Baroka FC, the midfielder has gatecrashed his way into the Orlando Pirates starting line-up under the tutelage of Serbian mentor Milutin “Micho” Sredojevi.
In what passes for a dream season for the young footballer, he earned his first Warriors call-up when Zimbabwe participated at the Four Nations tournament in Zambia last month.
And he still basks in the glory of donning the national colours.
“It felt so good. I just want to thank God for making it possible and the national team head coach [Sunday Chidzambwa] for having faith in what I have been doing at my club. It’s something that I have always dreamt about, representing my beloved country,” Munetsi said.
“With the way my season started last year, I didn’t think I would play for the Warriors anytime soon because I was not playing much in the first six months. But I knew that if I got my chance to play at club level, I would get a call because of the way our team plays,” added.
After signing for Pirates at the start of the 2016/17 season, Munetsi was immediately sent on loan to newly-promoted premiership side Baroka FC going on to make 26 league appearances.
This season Munetsi has made 12 league appearances for the Buccaneers, all of them coming in 2018.
He shared his experience in South Africa.
“It’s a top league with great clubs and good player management as well as sponsorship and a lot of players from all over the world. The facilities are amazing, with top coaches and I have really enjoyed my time here,” the former Mabvuku High School student said.
The reason Munetsi became a footballer was his father Samson.
“My father loved football so much. He used to take me to watch Dynamos matches when I was young. His love for the game rubbed on to me at a very young age. He supported me a lot to go to train with a club that was very close to our place and after watching players like Patrick Vieira at Arsenal, I made up my mind that I would pray and work hard so that I could be a footballer one day,” Munetsi revealed.
The journey started at Ali Sundowns Juniors in Mabvuku when he was still in primary school before he moved to Friendly Academy and later played for Blue Rangers in Division One.
Friendly Academy then brought him to FC Cape Town after spending a year at Rangers where he was coached by Lloyd Chigove.
Munetsi paid tribute to the late former Caps United great Friday “Amayenge” Phiri, whom he says was instrumental in shaping his football career.
“There is also another person who really helped shape my career and life and it is the late Friday Phiri. He was part of Friendly Academy, helping us with training and giving us insights on how to behave when playing abroad. I can go on because he taught us a lot of things. He was a father to us and may his soul rest in peace,” Munetsi said.
Phiri passed on late last year after he was diagnosed of liver cancer.
So what’s next for the young footballer now that he commands a first-team jersey at Orlando Pirates?
“I want to win trophies with the club and to help the team to be number one in South Africa and Africa. I also dream of moving to Europe in the future because it has always been my dream to play there one day. And, of course, to help my country qualify for big tournaments,” he said.
Born to Samson and Sarudzai Munetsi, Munetsi is the second child in a family of four, where is he is the only footballer. Outside of football, “Nyahle”, as Munetsi is affectionately known by his teammates, enjoys going to church, and relaxing with family and friends watching movies or sports.
Marshall Munetsi Fact file
Date of birth: June 22 1996
Height: 1, 88m
Current team: Orlando Pirates
Former clubs: FC Cape Town, Baroka FC
Blue Rangers FC