BY HENRY MHARA
AS TINO Kadewere’s profile continues to spiral upwards, the Warriors star was this week featured in Spanish biggest newspaper Marca in a development which will certainly put him on the radar of that country’s biggest clubs — Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
The Olympique Lyonnais forward has been in red hot form in his debut season for the French giants, scoring nine goals in 20 appearances to earn himself praise all over.
Already, Kadewere has received a compliment from Madrid superstar Karim Benzema in what was probably the former Harare City man’s biggest praise to his booming career.
Following the commendation by one of the best strikers in the world which came hours before Lyonnais’ derby match against Saint Etienne at the weekend in a game the Zimbabwe international went on to score a brace, Marca followed that up with a flowery piece.
Marca is a Spanish national daily sport newspaper which focuses primarily on football, in particular the day-to-day activities of Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Atlético Madrid.
It has a daily readership of over 2 500 000, the highest in Spain for a daily newspaper.
Headlined Kadewere, the Lyon phenomenon blessed by Benzema, the newspaper chronicled the striker’s career thus far as well as his storming start at Lyon.
“The Tino referred to by ‘KB9’ is none other than Philana Tinotenda Kadewere who was born in Harare on January 5, 1996, the newcomer who managed to push out Moussa Dembélé,” the newspaper wrote.
Dembélé, a French international, was Lyon’s main striker, but was pushed to the fringes by the arrival of Kadewere.
He has since left to join Atlético Madrid on loan.
“His mobility, opportunism and ability to attack spaces are key in the good moment Lyon is going through in Ligue 1, where they are third, two points behind PSG and Lille,”Marca wrote.
The newspaper went on to quote Lyon’s coach Rudi García, who also heaped praise on his striker.
“He gives us what we want: depth, work, finishing … He is very complete and works hard for the team,” said García of Kadewere.
The 25-year-old’s brace in the 5-0 drubbing of Saint Etienne has set himself in the run to break a derby record in the history of Lyon.
This double was his second in this fierce derby this season, having come off the bench to net twice in the 2-1 win for Lyon in the reverse fixture in November.
With four goals in just two derbies played, Kadewere is only one goal behind club legends Juninho and Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette in the scorers’ standings in this fixture.
Pre-match, Benzima had posted a message on microblogging site Twitter encouraging his former club Lyonnais to win the derby match.
In the post, he urged Kadewere to continue his fine goal-scoring form in the French top-flight.
“Lyonnais, tonight you can make whole city proud and happy. We are all behind you, and Tino, keep making your dreams come true,” wrote Benzema.
Benzema is regarded by France legend and Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane as the best striker in French history.
After the match, Kadewere said he had been touched by Benzema’s support and reaffirmed his intention of playing alongside the Madrid star striker.
“Unfortunately, I don’t have Twitter, but if I had seen this before the game, then I’m sure I would have scored more goals because getting a tweet from such a big player and someone I look up to really gives me motivation, so I’m really happy that one of the strikers that made me sign for Lyon is following my progress and happy with what I’m doing. That gives me confidence also and I really want to thank him for the belief and the support,” Kadewere said after the match.
He said it would be “a dream come true” for him to play with Benzema either at the Groupama Stadium or at Real Madrid.
“Play with Karim Benzema at OL or join him in Madrid? Regardless, playing with him would be a dream come true,” Kadewere said.
He has previously stated his desire to emulate Benzema, who is regarded as a Lyon hero after he scored 43 Ligue 1 goals for the club before his departure to Real Madrid in 2009.
Kadewere said: “I am on social media to see how he lives, trains. To be honest, that is one of the big reasons I signed for Lyon. My career is on the right track, but I don’t have to rest. I’m in a big club, one of the best in the world, but if I keep going, why not go even higher? You never know, one day, I might be like Benzema.”
Lyon was set to host Bordeaux last night, with Tino looking to add on to his scoring tally as Lyon eye the top spot.