IN­TER­VIEW Celtic’s ver­sa­tile Kenyan could be the coolest player at Ham­p­den

The Herald - Herald Sport - - Football -

T would seem that the Scot­tish Com­mu­ni­ties League Cup has not ex­actly gripped the peo­ple of Kenya, writes Michael Grant. If the Wanyama fam­ily is in­dica­tive of the na­tional mood then even those who have a con­nec­tion to it aren’t ex­actly be­side them­selves with en­thu­si­asm about to­mor­row’s Celtic ver­sus Kil­marnock final at Ham­p­den. “I’m ex­cited, but not very ex­cited,” said the la­conic and like­able Vic­tor, the 20year-old who has made an im­pres­sive con­tri­bu­tion to the Celtic mid­field and de­fence in his de­but sea­son.

Wanyama can win the first tro­phy and medal of his se­nior ca­reer in Glas­gow to­mor­row but his par­ents won’t be there to see it if he does. His older brother, Mcdon­ald Mariga, plays for Parma hav­ing been loaned to them by In­ter Mi­lan. Parma are at home to AC Mi­lan to­day and mum and dad Wanyama will be at that one rather than mak­ing their way to Scot­land. “My mum and dad are al­ready in Italy with my brother, so my sis­ter and my cousin will be com­ing over to the cup final,” he said. “And I think the game will be shown live in Kenya.”

There’s no point won­der­ing about whether Wanyama is re­motely both­ered about his folks’ pre­fer­ring his brother’s game rather than his own: he doesn’t seem eas­ily both­ered by any­thing. Celtic’s pow­er­ful Kenyan is blessed with an un­flap­pable tem­per­a­ment. Even this cup final is un­likely to quicken his pulse. Not un­til the final whis­tle has gone on a Celtic win, at least. “We have to fin­ish the job come Sun­day and then the ex­cite­ment will come from there. We are close to tak­ing the tro­phy but only af­ter the game on Sun­day can we be happy. It will be a very big game to me but I will not be ner­vous. I will just take it as any other league game.”

Wanyama has al­ready made 34 ap­pear­ances this sea­son and made him­self enor­mously valu­able to man­ager Neil Len­non, who spent £900,000 to bring him from the Bel­gian club Ger­mi­nal Beer­schot. Giv­ing him a four-year con­tract was a dec­la­ra­tion of faith in his po­ten­tial which so far has been vin­di­cated by his con­sis­tently solid per­for­mances.

It now looks in­con­gru­ous that his de­but came in one of Celtic’s poor­est re­sults of the sea­son, the 1-0 de­feat to St John­stone at Park­head in Au­gust. Wanyama has en­joyed his time in Scot­land so far, but that day was wound­ing. “For me the real low point was the St John­stone game at home. It was very dif­fi­cult for me. I kept on ask­ing my­self too many ques­tions but you just have to keep your chin up and keep go­ing.

“I didn’t have any doubt about com­ing here. But I asked my­self ‘how can it be like this on my de­but – a big team los­ing at home’. The gaffer helped me by telling me to for­get it and keep on go­ing. He had a gen­eral talk and it was a good one, and from there it picked up.”

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