CF Montreal midfielder Victor Wanyama on Monday, September 27 announced his retirement from international football after 15 years of service to Kenya’s national team, Harambee Stars.
The first East African to feature in the English Premier League (EPL), Wanyama’s stature in the Kenyan game is only comparable to former Harambee Stars captain Dennis ‘The Menace’ Oliech, ex-Inter Milan ace McDonald Mariga (Wanyama’s brother) and Al Duhail SC striker Michael Olunga who took on the mantle of Stars’ captaincy from Wanyama.
“We have shared great moments together and I am proud to have been your captain and leader. But all good things must come to an end eventually; and after a long consideration, I have made the really difficult decision to retire from international football.”
“Time has come to hand over the team to the next generation so that they too can make their mark and help our country reach even greater heights. I hope to return one day to help the federation off the field but until then, I will still be the Harambee Stars’ biggest supporter and I will be cheering you guys on from the sidelines,” Wanyama shared.
The former Tottenham Hotspur man noted that he would remain the national team’s “biggest supporter”.
Wanyama made 71 appearances for the national team and scored seven goals.
Memorable moments include his goal in Kenya’s 3-0 win against Ethiopia at a packed Kasarani Stadium as the Harambee Stars sealed qualification for Afcon 2019 in front of an ecstatic home crowd. As Captain, Wanyama led Kenya to their first appearance at the continental showpiece since Tunisia 2004.
His last game for the national team was in Kenya’s 1-0 loss to Comoros in the 2021 Afcon qualifiers.
Wanyama was overlooked by immediate former Harambee Stars’ coach Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee in his squads for the Qatar 2022 World Cup Qualifiers, a move that rubbed a section of fans the wrong way.
His international career splits opinion among fans. While there are no doubts that he has been a loyal servant of the national team, a legend and a leader, fans and analysts have observed that he sometimes failed to replicate his often sensational club form in the Harambee Stars jersey.
Mulee left the position of Stars’ coach in September and was replaced by former Moldova manager Engin Firat who was appointed by Football Kenya Federation (FKF) on a two-month contract. Many fans had hoped that Wanyama would be included in the squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Mali, but his retirement puts that question to rest.
He remains in great form for CF Montreal which he also captains, in Major League Soccer (MLS).
Interestingly, Wanyama revealed that he hoped to return one day to help Football Kenya Federation (FKF) in development of the game in Kenya. His passion for nurturing young talents has so far seen him offer education scholarships through his foundation which is also constructing a football academy in Busia County.
The sentiments were welcomed by FKF, with the federation’s CEO Barry Otieno stating: “The federation remains cognizant of Victor’s contribution to Kenyan football and believes the country will continue to benefit from his leadership and experience in the future. The door will always be open for Victor to contribute to the development of the game and the national team.”