WARRIORS and Nottingham Forest defender Tendayi Darikwa has been tasked to sweet-talk Arsenal starlet Reiss Nelson (pictured) who has a Zimbabwean parentage to pick the Warriors ahead of England for his international career.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
Darikwa told media channel On The Whistle that the Gunners forward would add value to the Zimbabwe national team.
Nelson (20) is born to a Zimbabwean father and English mother and has played for England’s youth teams but has not yet represented the senior team, which makes him eligible for the Warriors.
Darikwa, however, does not want to put pressure on Nelson into making the decision.
“I think it’s a personal decision that someone has to make to switch allegiances or go and represent a certain country,” Darikwa said. “We all know how capable Reiss is and talented he is as a footballer and he can only improve our team and our country. We welcome Reiss to come and play for the Warriors. We’d love him to come but he needs to make the decision himself without getting pressure from people outside. He has played for England at youth level, if he wants to carry on playing for England, that’s fine but if he wants to play for Zimbabwe, we’ll welcome him together.”
Arsenal coach Mike Arteta is said to have a high regard for the young Nelson.
Darikwa switched his international allegiance to Zimbabwe in 2017 and has been playing for the Warriors since then.
He was part of the team that drew 2-2 with the African champions Algeria on Monday in the Group H African Cup of Nations qualifiers where the Warriors are tipped to make it to the finals to be decided by how they will fare against Botswana away and Zambia at home.
Football news agency 90mins.com also indicated that Nelson can switch to Zimbabwe. “Owing to his father’s heritage, Nelson is eligible to represent Zimbabwe if he chooses to do so.
However, the winger has been playing for the England youth teams at all levels from Under-16 to Under-21, so a move to represent Zimbabwe is unlikely to say the least,” the news agency said.
National teams’ general manager Wellington Mupandare said that he had asked Darikwa to talk to Nelson about representing the Warriors.
“I haven’t spoken to Reiss as yet, I have asked Darikwa to talk to him because I do not have direct contact with him,” Mupandare said.
“So I have asked Darikwa to talk to him and do everything he can to make sure that he can commit to playing for us.”
Zimbabweans who have played in the English top league include Bruce Grobbelaar, Peter Ndlovu, Benjani Mwaruwari and Marvelous Nakamba who currently plays for Aston Villa.
Others players born in England who have played for the Warriors include Adam Chicksen, Jordan Zemura and Macaulay Bonne but the former did not avail himself for matches against Algeria.