In this series, we invite readers to send questions to select public figures.
Congratulations for your great performances, I believe you are the current Patrick Viera and Claude Makelele in the English Premier League. But why didn’t you join Arsenal from Southampton? Your fans in Kenya were optimistic you would join the Gunners owing to the many rumours that were going round.
Charles Mumbuchi Muriithi, Embu county
I appreciate your support Charles. Arsenal is a popular and successful football club with a fantastic manager. But the club did not place a bid to sign me. That said, I am very happy and settled at Tottenham Hotspur and proud to have contributed to that draw we registered against the Gunners in the league earlier this month (on November 6).
Hi Victor, how do I develop my ball balancing tactics?
John Karanja, Kabete
Hi John, what do you mean by ball balancing? If you are referring to ball control, juggling, dribbling and ball handling, then the secret is simple. Keep on practising. Try practising alone, within small spaces, and on well kept grass so that the ball doesn’t often bounce awkwardly. All the best.
How do you ensure that too much money does not lead you to lose focus?
I do not believe in that “too much money” phrase. That said, one needs to properly plan for all the income received. Also, it is important to seek as much advice as possible from experts that you can trust when saving and investing. Pertaining to focus, this is achieved by setting targets for and working towards realising them on a daily basis.
I am encouraged by what you have achieved as a footballer despite the scepticism in Kenya towards sports as a career. From your experience in Europe, what should we do to move away from such scepticism?
Alex Mbaya, Nairobi
Alex, I appreciate your positive feedback. However, it is important not to let people’s feelings or opinions influence your performance. Always work for your team, your dream and targets.
You’ve played in Belgium, Scotland and at the moment you are in England. At the age of 25, you already have a glittering football career behind you. What would you consider the highlight of your career so far and what is your advice to young players from Kenya and East Africa trying to break out and showcase their talent on the international stage?
Kilili Nthiw’a, Salama, Makueni County.
It is challenging to identify one single moment to define my career. If you want to push me though, I’d say that moment I scored against Barcelona in the Champions League (as a Celtic player in a November 2012 win). We won the game and in the end it was emotional seeing the star-studded Barcelona players congratulating us.
Which football team were you supporting as you were growing up? How do you manage when playing against a team you supported?
Victor Odukhula, Lang’ata
Locally I have always been a fan of AFC Leopards. On the international front it was Manchester United, partly because of my role model Roy Keane. I loved his charisma and passion for the game. I always have a professional outlook any time I step onto the pitch and the target is to win every game I participate in regardless of the opposition.
Hello brother Wanyama, thanks for making us proud. It’s always exciting watching one of our own playing in the top flight football. I have, however, noted that you are shown a lot of yellow cards during Premier league matches. Is it because you are used to making bad tackles or are you always a victim of biased officiating?
Edward Wanjala Mangoli, Kabuchai
I thank you for the support too. I had a tough time last season with a couple of sending offs at Southampton. I put it down to bad luck because I never go out to injure a player or get sent off. Still, playing in my position as a defensive midfielder, the main responsibility is to break up the opponents’ play which involves some tackling.
How has your talent and football profession benefited Kenya and Africa as a whole?
Peter, I believe my presence in the Premier League has given many Kenyans and East Africans in particular hope that we have what it takes to play at the highest level. I am always humbled seeing Kenyans donning Tottenham replica jerseys. The rest of the world has also begun appreciating Kenyan football. At the moment we have scouts from Hull City and West Ham on a talent identification mission in Kenya.
In some parts of the world, we hear of football celebrities like you who have established foundations to assist young and upcoming footballers make it to the top. Can we expect this from you now or in future?
Francis Njuguna, Kibichoi
I always try my best to support aspiring footballers and the youth in Kenya and elsewhere. Yes, I hope to set up a foundation in future.
Kindly let us know if you are helping other promising players to secure positions in Europe or outside the country. Thanks and have a good time at Spurs.
John Mwalili, Mwingi Central
John, I have in the past recommended some Kenyan players to European teams and I am happy they are doing well. That said, I encourage Kenyan players to continue working hard because if you are good enough, your talent will sooner or later be identified and rewarded by scouts and coaches.
Greetings Mr Wanyama. I congratulate you for proving that Kenya has got talent. I watched you score against Barcelona (in 2012) and it was fantastic. Lately there has been a lot of hype about Harambee Stars results after an unbeaten seven-game run. This has silenced the critics of coach Stanley Okumbi. What do you think of the results?
The current Harambee Stars setup is among the best that I have been part of. We are also very lucky to have a management that is dedicated to supporting the team and ensure we have adequate preps ahead of the forthcoming competitive games.
How do you brand Kenya since you are now in the international limelight?
I try as much as possible to have a patriotic look whenever I am outside the country. I carry my national team flag to almost all important functions and also wear bracelets with the Kenyan flag during games if the opportunity allows. I also endeavour to mention Kenya and the wonderful opportunities here whenever I am fielding interviews. I have also in the past invited many of my friends to Kenya.
What is your advice on hooliganism in our local football league?
Hooliganism has no place in football. It is destructive. I urge fans to exercise restraint even when results don’t go their way. The authorities should also come up with modern ways of stamping out the vice.
Who is your best friend at Tottenham and who is your favourite player in the Premier league.
Wycliffe Otiso Isaboke, Kisii
At Tottenham we are one big family. I am pals with everybody and we go out together and have dinner at times. In the Premier League, I admire Yaya Toure (Manchester City) and Sadio Mane (Liverpool) for their hard work.
Which Kenyan footballer do you believe deserves to play in one of the world’s top leagues?
Kenya has many talented players. At this moment we have Ayub Timbe in Belgium, Arnold Origi in Norway, David Ochieng in the US and Michael Olunga in Sweden. They are doing a good job and have a potential of moving to more competitive leagues in future. We also have several players in the local league who stand a chance to play in Europe if they keep working hard and maintain focus.
I must say your game is very professional. Keep it up. What are you doing to change the situation of the game in Kenya and ensure good management of football academy schools?
Dennis Maina, Nairobi
Thank you Dennis. I believe the current football administrators are doing a fantastic job in managing the game and we need to support them, I also urge the sponsors and other well-wishers to help develop the game.