YOUNG WARRIORS defender Marvelous Nakamba has become the first Zimbabwean to make a big 2014 European summer move after signing for Dutch Eredivisie side Vitesse from French League 2 side AS Nancy.
He had one year remaining on his AS Nancy contract and it was not yet clear yesterday how long he will be tied to the Vitesse.
The 20-year-old played the last 26 minutes after replacing Marko Verjinovic in Wednesday’s 3-1 friendly match defeat to English Premier League giants Chelsea in which Cesc Fabregas scored a stunning freekick.
His move to GelreDome Stadium was revealed by British publication MailOnline in their live online commentary of the match.
“On comes the wonderfully named Marvelous Nakamba, who has just signed for Vitesse after a trial,” said MailOnline.
“Marvelous Nakamba is from Zimbabwe, a country which once had a tennis player called Genius Ndzwike (sic).”
Chelsea fielded the likes of Peter Cech, Gary Cahill, Diego Costa, Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres.
Nakamba’s name already appears on football encyclopedia Soccerway.com as being in the books of the Arnhem side who finished on a respectable seventh Eredivisie position last season. At Vitesse, he teams up with Nigerian forward Abiola Dauda who was once Archford Gutu’s teammate at Swedish side Kalmar FF.
On Sunday, Vitesse, who are managed by Peter Bosz and finished sixth in the 2013/14 campaign, play another friendly match with former English Premiership side, Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium.
The Eredivisie then kicks off the following weekend with Vitesse starting their campaign against former European champions Ajax Amsterdam.
Vitesse is a Dutch football club from Arnhem, which was founded on May 14 1892. Vitesse (French for speed) has enjoyed some success in Eredivisie and featured in the UEFA Cup competition.
The owner is a Russian businessman, Aleksandr Tsjigirinski, which makes Vitesse the first and only Dutch football club owned by a foreigner.
Vitesse once attracted big name signings into its ranks including Roy Makaay, Nikos Machlas, Sander Westerveld, Danko Lazovic, Pierre van Hooijdonk, Mahamadou Diarra and Philip Cocu.
In 2010, the club was bought by Georgian businessman Merab Jordania, who is a good friend with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. Shortly thereafter, the two clubs agreed to a partnership and in the years following, many young Chelsea players have moved to Vitesse on loan, including Nemanja Matić, Gaël Kakuta and both Tomáš Kalas and Patrick van Aanholt twice. The club competed in European competition for the first time in a decade when it qualified for the 2012–13 UEFA Europa League as they were winners of the European playoff at the end of the 2011-12 Eredivisie campaign, defeating RKC Waalwijk 5-2 in the two-legged final.
Vitesse finished the 2012-13 Eredivisie campaign in fourth place and thus qualified for the Third Qualifying Round of the Europa League for the following season. After leading the club to their impressive fourth place finish, manager Fred Rutten stepped down from his post after only one season in charge and was replaced by former Vitesse and Feyenoord midfielder Bosz.
In July 2013, two of Vitesse’s most important first-team players, Marco van Ginkel and Wilfried Bony, were sold for club record fees at the time to Chelsea and Swansea City of the Premier League respectively.
Van Ginkel had been named the Dutch Talent of the Year for the previous season and Bony was the Eredivisie top scorer with 31 goals and was named the Dutch Footballer of the Year.
On October 22 2013 it was announced that Russian billionaire Tsjigirinski was the new owner of Vitesse, while Jordania remained as chairman of the club.
Nakamba’s transfer is in stark contrast to the widely condemned move by Knowledge Musona and Ovidy Karuru who returned to Africa from Europe at the peak of their careers.
Ironically, Musona was last season reported to have snubbed an Eredivisie move and opted to rejoin to Kaizer Chiefs.
Nakamba, one of the professionals mysteriously overlooked by Warriors coach Ian Gorowa, who might be axed next Wednesday when the Zifa Board meets to finalise the appointments of all national team coaches following the Warriors’ failure to make progress in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
Last season, he closely missed League1 promotion with AS Nancy after prominently featuring at the tail of the season following his graduation from the reserve side.
The attacking midfielder had joined AS Nancy in June 2012 from Bantu Rovers, who were then playing their trade in the Southern Region Division One League.
He was spotted by the French club earlier that year while playing in the Dallas Cup with Rovers in United States amid renewed interest from Belgian side Cercle Brugge where he underwent trials in 2010 together with Warriors midfielder Danny Phiri.
Nakamba played in the Premier Soccer League with Bantu Rovers as a raw teenager in 2010 and 2011.
He was part of the Under-20 national team that included Kuda Mahachi, Denver Mukamba, Russell Madamombe and Dynamos forward Simba Sithole.
Mukamba moved to Bidvest Wits, but failed to impress and is now on loan at Pretoria University while Mahachi is at Mamelodi Sundowns. Sithole is a South African returnee having tried his luck at Sundowns and later at Supersport United with little success.