ZIMBABWE international striker Tino Kadewere has revealed that he turned down offers from several Belgian clubs as well as an opportunity to play in the Major League Soccer (MLS) in the United States in favour of a move to French Ligue 2 side Le Havre AC.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The 22-year-old highly-rated forward took a major step in his promising career after signing a four-year contract with the French second-tier club from Swedish club Djurgårdens IF for a reported fee worth around $2,5 million.
Kadewere, who had spent three years at the Swedish club, scoring 13 goals in 43 appearances, revealed that he turned down offers from top Belgian sides Standard Liege and KV Oostende as well as MLS side Real Salt Lake, who were all keen to add him to their rosters.
KV Oostende was home to Warriors captain Knowledge Musona before his move to Anderlecht in May while 10-time Belgian champions Standard Liege, were also initially linked with the former Kaizer Chiefs forward.
Kadewere, however, snubbed the opportunity to fill the void left by his Warriors teammate or join him in the Belgian Jupiler League or join Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the MLS for Le Havre AC, who he reckons could open doors for him to move to bigger clubs.
Opening up for the first time on his decision, Kadewere said he was motivated not only by Le Havre AC’s rich history, but also their great reputation in developing young players.
Over the years Le Havre have produced an incredible number of players who went on to star both in France and the rest of Europe among them Manchester United star Paul Pogba, the Manchester City duo of Riyad Mahrez and Benjamin Mendy, former France international Lassana Diarra and Olympique de Marseille star Dimitri Payet, just to mention a few.
“When you are a footballer, you have to watch the history of the club. I looked at the HAC and I saw that it was a big French club, the oldest in France. And then, I looked at the players here and looked where they are now. I told myself that I had to come here and that the club knew how to develop young players,” Kadewere said in his first wide-ranging interview in the French media on Thursday.
“Le Havre can be a good springboard; it can allow me to go even higher like Pogba or Mahrez. But for now, I am here. I must give the best. And my only goal is to allow the club to go up in Ligue 1,” he said.
The striker, who is currently rehabilitating from a serious knee injury he picked last month, also spoke about the offers he had received from other clubs following his storming start to the season.
Kadewere was topping the scoring charts in the Swedish Allsvenskan before his injury after scoring eight times in 12 appearances.
“I had a lot of offers, especially in Belgium. There was the Standard Liege offer and KV Oostende, for example. I also had an opportunity in MLS, with Real Salt Lake. But I chose Le Havre because of the team’s history and because the French championship is very competitive. Ligue 1 is one of the best leagues, watched all over the world. And it does not matter if we are in Ligue 2 for now. The team has the potential to go up,” he said.
The former Harare City forward, who is expected to return to full fitness in October, said he had settled well at his new club and his main goal was to help them secure promotion to Ligue 1.
“My first days here have been splendid. The players, the staff, all were very welcoming. It is a new stage in my career. Everyone must dream. Le Havre is a great club and I want to help it achieve its goals. The goal is to go to Ligue 1 at the end of the season.
“Unfortunately at the moment, I am injured, but I thank the club for having trusted me all the same. I think I will be able to play again in late September or early October.”
Kadewere, who also had a trial stint as another French Ligue 2 side Sochaux in 2015 before eventually signing for Djurgårdens IF, opened up on his failed move and his ultimate decision to opt for a move to Sweden instead.
“I came to Sochaux in July 2015. I could have signed there, but I was still young. So I preferred to join a club where I felt I could grow more quietly. I was just coming out of Zimbabwe, and I chose Sweden. It was better to acclimatise to European football. Now I feel ready to play in France.”
Kadewere also refused to be compared with Swedish superstar Ibrahimovic, saying that although he had great admiration for the Los Angeles Galaxy striker, he wanted to be his own man and make a name for himself.
“In Sweden, everyone loves him (Ibrahimovic). He is kind of a king. But I do not want to be compared to others. I am young and I want to make a name for myself. I want to work hard and I want everyone to remember ‘Tino’. I’m a real striker. I’m not very strong, it’s true, but I’m very fast and really very skilled,” he said.