BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
WARRIORS’ England-based star Jordan Bhekithemba Zemura is hoping to make a mark at English Championship side Bournemouth this season after enjoying a memorable breakthrough campaign for both club and country last season.
The 21-year-old left-back made five senior appearances for Bournemouth last season after graduating from the club’s development side, before going on to make his Warriors debut in a 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Algeria in November.
As he looks ahead to the new Championship season which kicks off next month, Zemura is currently part of the Bournemouth first team that is intensifying its pre-season preparations in Spain.
Zemura was given a start by the new manager Scott Parker when Bournemouth eased to a 4-2 win past Spanish third -tier outfit Real Balompedica Linense to begin their pre-season schedule with a win in Marbella on Friday night.
The Zimbabwe international phad 70 minutes on that field and played a part in one of the goals before he was replaced by teenager Ben Greenwood.
A product of the Queens Park Rangers Academy, London-born Zemura had a remarkable breakthrough season with the Cherries despite their failure to make a quick return to the Premier League after their relegation during the 2019/2020 season.
After signing his first professional contract with the club in October last year, Zemura went on to make five appearances as the team finished sixth in the English Championship title race before losing in the semi-finals of the promotional play-offs.
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In a sign of his growing status at the club, the versatile defender had an in-depth interview with the club’s official YouTube channel where he reflected on last season, his plans for the new campaign and his love for music.
“It’s nice to be out here training hard. And being around the lads has been good just mingling with each other and get to know each other better at the start of the season,” Zemura said.
“The season will start in about two weeks so for me personally I want to be able to show the management that I am ready, I am committed, I am learning all the things that we get told and stuff like that and also to show my teammates that I will run my feet into the ground for them.
“I think personally it’s just a stepping stone, once we lay the ground work in pre-season you can’t look back at all because the season will be like right in front of you and you will be ready for it,” he said.
Zemura will be looking to claim a regular place in the first team as Bournemouth look for an automatic return to the Premier League although he faces a tough challenge on his hands following reports that he could fall down the pecking order if the club sign Leeds United defender Leif Davis.
But he hopes that the current pre-season will propel him to achieve his targets.
“Last year we had a good pre-season. although it was short, I felt like all the hard work that we did there helped us to go on and have the season that we did,” he said.
“Last season was a good season for me especially stepping into the senior team dressing room and being around first team lads especially coming from the under-21s. I learnt a lot, I watched a lot, I was there for most of the games and I got an understanding of how it is when you win,” Zemura said.
Last year Bournemouth had their pre-season in Benfica, Portugal.
Interestingly, the Cherries have scheduled a friendly match with European champions Chelsea set for July 27 and Zemura will be looking to rub shoulders with some of the best footballers in the world.
Zemura shared his sentiments on the club’s new highly rated coach Scott Parker.
“The gaffer has been incredible, him and his whole coaching staff. It’s quite tough coming into a new environment with different players, but since day one when he first came in he just laid down the rules on what he wants from us. For me being a young lad and be able to be managed by him is incredible,” Zemura said of Parker, who failed to save Fulham from Premier League relegation last season.
The Zimbabwean still rates last year as his best season yet especially after making his debut for the country in the Afcon qualifiers.
“When I actually got offered the contract early October last year, signing and going away with Zimbabwe to play in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers were all surreal moments for me. I was turning 21 in that week as well.
“It’s just a year of my life that I won’t forget (that) during the whole climax of the Covid-19 it felt good for me to bring some bit of joy to my family, my mum my dad, my granddad, my grandma, my aunts and uncles, my little brother, my nieces and everyone who has been with me the whole way and helped pushing me continuously. Without them I wouldn’t be here,” Zemura said.
Nicknamed Jay-Z by his colleagues after the popular American rapper, songwriter, record executive and businessman, Zemura also opened up on his music tastes.
“My music taste is very elaborate. I can listen to all types except for rock, I don’t listen to rock, and I have no business listening to that, but from like hip hop to RnB, slow jams to House music like a little bit I listen to all types really,” he said.
“For an initiation karaoke song you got to really play it down to something that gets the crowd going, which sounds good with your voice, not too many high notes because we are not on X-factor here, so if I was going to pick a song I would have to go with my good friend Usher Raymond, probably Burn, I think it’s very passionate and can bring up the crowd,” Zemura revealed.