Nairobi boy all revved up to mess with Messi

Olunga and Messi
  • Michael Olunga becomes the second Kenyan to play in the Spanish La Liga after compatriot Macdonald Mariga who had a spell with Real Sociedad
  • The ambitious striker looks forward to playing against football idols, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Prior to sealing a move to Spain, Olunga turned out for Chinese outfit Guizhou Zhicheng

For a man who had been written off by critics shortly after his jaw-dropping ,big-money move to the super rich Chinese Premier League, Kenyan striker Michael ‘Engineer’ Olunga is exhibiting an incredible spirit to reinvent himself in the beautiful game of football after sealing a season-long loan switch to Spanish La Liga outfit Girona FC.

‘Micah,’ as he is fondly known by his peers, announced his arrival in sunny Spain in impeccable fashion, turning on the style to claim a brace in his first match for Girona and in his first game in Spanish soil, as Girona routed lower tier side CF Ripoll 8-0 in a September 4 friendly match.

The two goals by the lanky Olunga came barely 48 hours after he had sealed the season-long loan deal, giving him the much sought after break from China where he had grown frustrated after being frozen out of Guizhou Zhicheng’s senior team.

An emotional Olunga, who has defied the odds of his humble upbringing – from playing football barefoot on the dusty streets of Lucky Summer estate in Nairobi – took time to pay tribute to his late father, Ogada, after his double score.

“I am pleased after scoring two goals on my debut. I thank the Lord and look forward to starting my work on Sunday (September 10),” said Olunga, who was handed jersey number 14 at the club, and is now poised to make his La Liga debut on Sunday against Athletic Bilbao at San Mamés, Bilbao.

“I added Ogada (at the back of my jersey) in remembrance of my late dad who was a football lover.

I want to make him happy by becoming the first Kenyan to score in La Liga among many more achievements,” Olunga, 23, son of a single mother, wrote on his Facebook timeline after the game.

Olunga becomes the second Kenyan to play in the Spanish La Liga after lanky compatriot Macdonald Mariga who had a spell with Real Sociedad between 2011 and 2012.

And the ambitious striker has his pending days in the sun as he looks forward to playing league fixtures against football idols, Argentine Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – two of the world’s greatest footballers – when his side Girona faces Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.

Girona, known as the ‘Whites and Reds,’ will face a stern test against the Messi-led Barcelona on September 23 at the former’s 13,000-seater Montilivi Stadium in Catalonia, before facing off with Real Madrid on October 29.

Should his coach, Pablo Machin, elect to pick him for these tasty clashes, then he will rub shoulders with some of the best defenders in the world in the mould of Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique, who turn out for the Los Blancos and Blaugrana respectively.

Prior to sealing a move to Spain, Olunga turned out for Chinese outfit Guizhou Zhicheng, which he joined early this year in a Sh450 million move from Swedish top-tier club Djurgardens IF.

At Zhicheng, Olunga scored two goals in seven appearances, while notching an incredible 12 goals for his Swedish club in his debut season in 2016 that saw him claim the New Young Player Award as his price skyrocketed.

Should he settle in the warm Spain, he is likely to make the move permanent at the end of the campaign.

In Kenya, the happy- go- lucky kid turned out for Thika United, Tusker and Gor Mahia in that order in one year deals each between 2013 and 2015, before flying to Europe where the world took notice of his talent.

But even as he aims for the sky, it seems his strong Christian virtues are his cardinal principles.

“Even in the darkest moments, Lord you reign. Without you I am nothing. All Glory unto you,” he wrote shortly after he penned the season-long loan deal, adding, “Thanks be to God for making me realise this moment in my career.

 I trusted in you and you have once again made me see your goodness. All glory is to you.”


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