Victor Wanyama, 28


Harambee Stars

Victor Wanyama has had a chequered journey from playing street football on the dusty pitches of Muthurwa, a low-income residential area in Nairobi, to featuring in the world’s most popular football competition.

Wanyama is the captain of the national football team, Harambee Stars, and he also plays for English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur. He is today not just one of the most popular but
also among the best-paid athletes in East Africa.

His journey was made possible for a lucky star, best illustrated when Belgium scout Jean Marie Abeels spotted him playing for a local side, City FC, and was impressed by the youngster’s talents.

Marie would go on to secure an opportunity for Wanyama to play professional football in Belgium. Ultimately, the football education he received in Belgium came in handy when he transferred via
big money moves to Celtic and later on England. Scotland champions Celtic acquired him from Beerschort for a reported Sh130 million as transfer fees in 2011.

He would move to Southampton in England for an estimated Sh1.5 billion two years later before Tottenham snapped him for a similar fee in 2016. In total, he has attracted about Sh3 billion in transfer fees and media reports in England say he earns about a Sh1 million each day (minus bonuses and endorsements). It is through some of these funds and connections that he recently formed the Victor Wanyama Foundation so as to give back to society.

With less than a year since formation, the Foundation offers full scholarships to bright and needy high school students. On the pitch, the defensive midfielder has won the league title in Scotland, and also competed in the UEFA Champions League, considered the most prestigious club competition in the world. In June this year, he captained Harambee Stars at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

— David Kwalimwa