Victor Wanyama Profile
|Born||Jun 25, 1991|
From his early days in Kenya to the heights of the Premier League, Wanyama's journey in the sport is an incredible one. Planet Sport takes an in-depth look at his career so far.
The Kenyan currently plays as a defensive midfielder for Major League Soccer club CF Montreal. Previously, he played for Beerschot, Celtic, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur.
Wanyama has starred for the Kenyan national team since his debut in 2007, which came when he was only 15 years old. He was a part of the team at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Career at Celtic
As a youngster, Wanyama had stints at JMJ Youth Academy, Nairobi City Stars, AFC Leopards and Helsingborg in Sweden, who he joined in 2007. He returned to Kenya following the departure of his brother, McDonald Mariga, to Parma in 2008.
Also in 2008, Wanyama signed for Beerschot in Antwerp, Belgium. After three years there, Scottish giants Celtic signed him for a transfer fee of £900,000. Wanyama became the first Kenyan player to feature in the Scottish Premier League (SPL) and chose 67 as his kit number to honour Celtic's famous 1967 European Cup-winning side.
Wanyama made his Celtic debut on 21 August 2011 in a 1-0 defeat to St. Johnstone, playing at centre-back rather than in midfield.
On 7 November 2012, Wanyama became the first ever Kenyan player to score in the UEFA Champions League when he scored the opening goal in Celtic's 2-1 win over Barcelona. He was nominated for PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year in 2012/13. In the end, the prize went to Leigh Griffiths.
On 11 July 2013, Wanyama joined Premier League club Southampton for a reported fee of £12.5million. This made him the most expensive player ever signed from a Scottish club, as he beat Aiden McGeady's previous record of £9.5million, which had been set in 2010 when he joined Spartak Moscow (also from Celtic).
On 17 August 2013, Wanyama made his Southampton debut in a 1-0 away win over West Bromwich Albion. Injuries hampered his first season, but he nevertheless made 24 appearances in 2013/14 under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino.
Wanyama had a better season from an individual perspective in 2014/15 under Ronald Koeman. He scored his first goal for Southampton on 20 September 2014 at the Liberty Stadium. After coming on as a substitute for James Ward-Prowse, he scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win over Swansea City.
Wanyama went on to score further goals in victories over Sunderland and Hull City. In total, he made 38 appearances in 2014/15 and scored three goals.
In 2015/16, Wanyama made a further 35 appearances for the Saints, scoring once. Throughout the duration of his three-year spell at Southampton, he netted four times in 97 appearances in all competitions.
Transfer to Tottenham Hotspur
On 23 June 2016, Tottenham Hotspur announced an agreement with Southampton for the purchase of Wanyama on a five-year deal for a reported fee of £11million. He was reunited with Pochettino, who had been his first manager in the Premier League at Southampton.
Wanyama enjoyed an impressive season in 2016/17 as Tottenham impressed in the Premier League, finishing second only to London rivals Chelsea.
The Kenyan international scored his first goal for Spurs in a 1-0 home win over Crystal Palace in the 82nd minute. Incidentally, this was his first game for his new club on home soil. At the time, Tottenham played their home matches at White Hart Lane, although they would later move temporarily into Wembley Stadium and later into the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Wanyama suffered an injury to his knee against Chelsea early in the 2017/18 season and was sidelined for four months, only returning to training in December and to competitive action on 2 January 2018 in an away match against Swansea City.
On 4 February 2018, Wanyama scored the equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Liverpool. This was voted as the Premier League Goal of the Month.
Wanyama made a total of 24 appearances in 2017/18, scoring once, having made 47 appearances and scored five times the previous season. His knee injury had restricted him and he suffered another against Barcelona in pre-season ahead of the 2018/19 campaign.
Ultimately, Wanyama recovered to play a role in Tottenham's run to the UEFA Champions League final, where they lost 2-0 to Liverpool. However, he was never again as influential for Tottenham as he had been in 2016/17. Spurs had agreed a £13million deal to sell Wanyama to Club Brugge in August 2019, but the move broke down over the Kenya international's hesitancy.
Early in the 2019/20 season, Pochettino was replaced by Jose Mourinho after the team struggled to replicate their form from previous campaigns. Wanyama found himself out of favour and moved to Montreal Impact (now CF Montreal) in March 2020.
"Life was tough under Mourinho. I was not playing," Wanyama was quoted as telling Kenyan TV.
"I was injured for some time, and when I came back, I could not get a chance to play. I went to see the coach (Mourinho), and told him I needed to play.
"He said: 'You have to wait, you are just coming back from injury'. Clubs came in for me and asked to take me on loan with an obligation to buy after some time, but Tottenham said no.
"I went to the chairman's office and told him to understand my situation. I had been at the club for four years, and we had celebrated milestones, including the Champions League final.
"He granted me my wish to leave."
Move to Montreal CF
Wanyama made his competitive debut for Montreal under Thierry Henry in the CONCACAF Champions League quarter-finals in a defeat to CD Olimpia. He was a regular throughout the 2020 Major League Soccer season.
International career with Kenya
Wanyama has been a stalwart for the Kenyan national team since his 2007 debut. At the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, he was part of the side which was knocked out of the group stage with one win and two defeats from three matches. This had been Kenya's first AFCON tournament since 2004.
Wanyama went viral for his Twitter post on May 7, 2012 in which he wrote: "I had spaghetti and it was very nice I enjoyed it." The tweet was the subject of much jest, with future employers Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur each responding off their Twitter accounts.
Apart from the aforementioned McDonald Mariga, Wanyama's other brothers, Thomas and Sylvester Wanyama, have carved out playing careers for themselves in Kenya. His father, Noah Wanyama, played for AFC Leopards.
Wanyama is managed by the ExtraTime S.L. agency. His precise net worth is unclear, but he reportedly earns $3million a year in salary at Montreal.