#MCM: Footballer McDonald Mariga - I plan to retire from the game in five years

SDE: Tell us what are you up to at the moment?

I am currently busy concentrating on my football career with the aim to ensure that I leave a legacy out there once I decide to retire from international football.

SDE: Does this mean that you plan on retiring soon?

Not really, but say in the next five years. During that time I intend to set up a local football academy that will nurture talent and be able to take more players abroad.

SDE: Have you always been interested in football?

Soccer has always been a great part of me ever since I was a child. My father Noah Wanyama was a former football coach for Nzoia and Leopards football clubs. He is our inspiration. Also the fact that we often watched lots of football on television inspired us a lot.

SDE: Is this all you do for a living?

Yeap, football is my life, my all and everything else don’t matter. Owing for my immense love for the game I was lucky to land an opportunity at the international levels soon after completing my Form Four studies.

SDE: Do you have plans of furthering your education?

For now I am busy doing what I love most. Perhaps when the time comes I will be able to think about it.

SDE: How does it feel like to come from a family of sports – your father, yourself and younger brother Victor Wanyama?

It’s a good feeling.  Having been inspired by our father, and then I utilized the opportunity to go abroad and send my brother an invite besides mentoring him whenever I came back on holidays and played along together. I knew he had the potential to go far as a good player.

SDE: The fact that Victor becomes the first Kenyan to play for Tottenham, did you see it coming?

Not really, I was equally shocked. Truth is I thought he would at least play for Italy, Spain or Germany.

Despite everything I am very proud of his achievement a sign that he is headed in the right direction besides setting the pace for other talented young Kenyans. I intend to give him my full support.

SDE: Do you think the Kenyan football has come of age?

Definitely, yes. The fact that the local leagues are featured on Super Sports has enabled coaches or agents from abroad to have the chance to watch and poach local talent to play at the international levels.

SDE: You are one person who has played with the likes of soccer big wigs – the likes of Lionel Messi, how does it feel?

It is an awesome experience. Many years back I only watched and heard about them but the fact that I have been privileged to play alongside them is a plus on my part.

SDE: Tell us more about racism abroad and how you handle it?

Well, although initially it was too much but with time it has reduced.  Besides I have learnt to cope with it, more so when I end up being booed by a section of white fans.

SDE: Do you have a favourite team?

Initially I never supported a particular team, rather I just watched and admired good football. But today, I intend to give my support to my younger brother Wanyama, together with his team.

SDE: Seeing where you have come from and where you are today, do you think you have made it?

When I was young I had a desire to play teams in Italy and Spain, today I am glad that I have lived to fulfill that dream by being able to play in Italy and Spain. I thank God.  The fact that we were able to beat Barcelona while playing for Inter Milan is something I will live to cherish.

SDE: You are one person who is known to keep few friends – reason?

It’s a normal thing. What I talk of few friends I mean close friends whom I often referee as family members. These are the people who will always be there for me regardless of what I go through.

SDE: There were rumours that you once squeezed referee Ivano Pezzuto’s hand leaving it bloody following a firm handshake?

It wasn’t true. We got a penalty but for some reason he denied us the chance. This saw a number of furious players confront him and I don’t know what happened next. But for reasons I have never understood he decided to pick on me. 

SDE: In five years time?

I intend to retire from international football and set up a local football academy to help mould talent.