BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ENGLISH Championship football side Swansea City have shown their faith in the development of Zimbabwe-born defender Tivonge Rushesha after extending his contract despite the teenager being ruled out for the rest of the season due to a serious knee injury.
The 18-year-old promising right-back has been on the sidelines since early last month after damaging his anterior cruciate ligament in training.
Despite the serious injury, the Swansea City hierarchy still rate the young defender highly and do not want to see him leave on a free transfer when his current contract expires at the end of the year.
Swansea City last week confirmed that the young Zimbabwean has agreed a one-year contract extension.
“Swansea City defender Tivonge Rushesha has signed a contract extension through to the end of the 2022-23 season. The 18-year-old had been due to be out of contract in the summer of 2022,” the Welsh club said in a statement.
“Zimbabwean-born Rushesha is currently recovering from a serious knee injury he sustained in December. The Wales age-grade international made his first-team bow in last season’s Carabao Cup tie against Cambridge United, and has been one of several young players promoted to the senior squad under head coach Steve Cooper,” the club said.
Rushesha’s injury came on the back of a breakthrough season after the defender made his first-team debut and earned a first professional contract with Swansea City.
His achievements are even more remarkable considering they all occurred while he was still a second-year scholar.
After breaking into the under-23 squad last season, Rushesha was a regular feature for the development side last term – making the right-back spot his own with 12 appearances in Premier League 2 Division 2.
The Zimbabwean-born full-back saw his solid start to the campaign rewarded with a first-team debut in last August’s Carabao Cup clash against Cambridge United at the Liberty Stadium.
Rushesha, who has been with the Swans since under-12 level, became one of the youngest players ever to represent the former English Premier League club at the tender age of just 17 years and 35 days old.
“I’ve enjoyed playing football, we’ve won lots of games, and I’ve learned a lot. Overall, it’s been a very enjoyable season,” he said at the time.
“When I signed my scholarship, my main goal was to break into the under-23s as early as possible, so to be with them pretty much full-time as a second-year scholar is a good thing to achieve.
“Playing regular football is also really good because that’s what you want to be doing on a full-time basis at the highest level.
“The first-team debut is something you always want to achieve. Now I’ve done that, I must try to get in and around training with them more often.
“Whenever I have, I feel like I’ve stepped up a level because the pace is quicker, and the standard is higher. Now I’ve experienced that, I just want more of it.”
Although Rushesha has featured for Wales at youth level, he can still be available for selection in the Warriors squad.
The young star was drafted into the Warriors for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Zambia and Botswana last year by the then interim Warriors coach Joey Antipas, but was not able to make the trip to Zimbabwe after Zifa failed to have his passport renewed on time.