By Graham Hill
MARVELOUS Nakamba is already a role model in his native Zimbabwe – after playing just one Premier League game.
When Nakamba, 25, signed for Villa this summer from Bruges, plans were drawn up to build a statue in his honour in the city of Hwange where he grew up.
He is only the fourth Zimabwean player to make the grade in England.
And now Nakamba wants to show young players in his homeland they can do the same – after learning his skills on pitches made of sand, but never giving up on his dream.
Nakamba was inspired by Peter Ndlovu who played for Coventry, Birmingham and Sheffield United in a 13-year spell and is now manager of South African side Mamelodi Sundowns.
The Villa midfielder made his Premier League debut against West Ham on Monday – and says he is making his country proud.
Now he wants to show his efforts – and the sacrifices of his family – were all worth it.
Nakamba says his mother Charity had to work away for months at a time as a maid in South Africa so he could have the money for football boots.
He said: “I think people will be very proud of me when they see me play.
“Also, I can become an example back home, a role model.
“Everyone is looking up to me. And when I go back I can encourage others and say ‘impossible is nothing‘. And to believe as long as you have discipline and dedication.
“Life was not so easy growing up, but with football I was able to enjoy life. Football gave me a lot.
“To give everything for what I want and everything for my family is an example for football in Zimbabwe, not to ever give up no matter how the situation is.
“You never know what might happen tomorrow, you have to keep going.
“Sometimes I would be playing on sand, but I held onto that dream and had that hunger, we thought that if we could do it here then what possibilities were there when the pitches were better. It kept us going.
“I watched a lot of the Premier League growing up, it’s the league they show most back home.
“Peter Ndlovu is somebody I know very well, when I go home, I always see him. He’s a role model to me. I look up to him.
“He encouraged me to give everything in Belgium so I could go to a better league, and he preferred that I went to England. He thought it would be best for my career.
“Peter was willing and hoping for me. But he also said that I could not relax and then I would need to work hard.”
Nakamba says he knows what it is like to struggle as a player – which means his hunger is the same now that he is in England,
He added: “Football kept me out of many other things, it wasn’t an easy life, but I was always happy when I was playing football
“My mother had to go to South Africa to work as a maid so that she can support me with football boots and everything like that. She was there for me, but I stayed in Zimbabwe.
“After three or four months she would come and visit me, she had to do that to provide for the family.
“I stayed with my father, but it helped me to focus more and give everything to succeed in football.
“It helped me a lot, to grow up, to be mature, to be satisfied with what I have.
And the name? “My parents were very excited about me, maybe that’s why they gave me the name Marvelous.
“So far I haven’t come across anyone with the same name. My younger brother is called Junior. I hope my son will be named Junior Marvellous!”