BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWE international Marshall Munetsi has become one of the country’s high-profile football stars following a memorable debut season with Stade de Reims in the French Ligue 1 where he now enjoys the privilege of rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s best footballers like Neymar.
But the 23-year-old versatile player says he could most likely have been spending most of his time in the courtroom and not making crunching tackles or his trademark runs in the middle of the park if he had pursued his first career choice.
In an interview with Stade de Reims’ official website on Friday, Munetsi, who was recently rewarded with a new lucrative contract by the club, revealed that he displayed equal promise in the classroom as he did on the football pitch.
In fact, the Warriors star believes he was showing enough promise in his academic studies, which may have paved the way for a career in law if football didn’t work out for him.
Asked which career he would have pursued if he had not made it as a professional footballer, Munetsi said: “If I hadn’t played soccer, I would have been a lawyer, I think. This is an area that interests me a lot and I was doing well in school, so I think it could have suited me.”
Munetsi, however, revealed it was always one of his “wildest dreams” to become a footballer and enjoy a long career in Europe before opening up on his faith which he says is his biggest source of inspiration.
“It has to do with football, of course, it would be having a great and long career in Europe,” he said when asked about his wildest dream as a youngster.
“I am very religious, so it has to do with religion. My leitmotif in life is to be grateful for all that God gives me.”
Munetsi is one of the most affable and unassuming players in the Warriors squad.
Recently he also showed his generous side when he embarked on a campaign to promote education in the country through a foundation he has set up.
The ex-Orlando Pirates midfielder has been paying school fees for over 60 pupils in the Mabvuku suburb of Harare where he comes from.
A product of Friendly Academy and Ali Sundowns juniors in Mabvuku, Munetsi had been on a gradual rise in South African football since signing for South African National First Division side FC Cape Town in 2015.
After signing for Pirates at the start of the 2016/17 season, Munetsi was immediately sent on loan to the then newly-promoted premiership side Baroka FC, where his solid performances convinced the Buccaneers to recall him towards the end of last season.
Although he was not a regular at Pirates, Munetsi caught the eye of Stade de Reims, who moved quickly to sign him before the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Munetsi’s career in France initially got off to a slow start after suffering an injury during the team’s preseason ahead of the just ended campaign, but he bounced back to put on some solid performances during the season.
His gritty displays helped Stade de Reims finish fifth in Ligue 1 to book a spot in next season’s Europa League
Last month, Munetsi signed a one-year extension, barely a year into the initial four-year contract he signed when joining the club, which means he is now set to remain with Stade Reims until 2024.
Reims president Jean-Pierre Caillot said Munetsi had earned the new contract through his hard work and determination on the field of play and his general conduct.
“On a sporting and human level, Marshall is one of the great satisfactions of the season. This signature touches me more since I know all the additional work that the player has done to take his chance,” Caillot said in a statement on the French club’s official website.
The holding midfielder made 21 appearances across all competitions for Reims before the French season was halted and prematurely concluded due to the global Covid-19 outbreak.
Munetsi has also been a consistent performer in the Warriors squad since making his debut during the Four Nations tournament in Zambia two years ago and was part of the squad, which arrived took part in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt.
He will be one of the two Zimbabwean players set to feature in the French Ligue 1 next season together with striker Tino Kadewere who joined Olympique Lyon from Ligue 2 side Le Havre AC.