THE nation is rejoicing. It has the reason to rejoice the success of its own prodigy son, Mbwana Samatta, who has made history for becoming the first Tanzanian to play in the English Premier League.
For almost two weeks, Tanzania has been abuzz with stories surrounding its own son, Samatta’s move to England, which has finally come to pass with the player’s signing deal of four and half years.
Aston Villa announced on Monday night that the protracted Samatta deal has been sealed and the former Simba and TP Mazembe striker officially joined the English top flight side, coming from Belgian side KRC Genk.
Samatta’s performance with Genk caught the eye of the Premier League side Aston Villa, who signed the 27-year-old for a reported £10 million fee.
He has been acquired to replace Brazilian striker Wesley Moraes, who will be out until the end of the season with an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury.
As rightly noted by many Tanzanian football pundits, Samatta’s bio has more than trebled. He is indeed a man of many firsts since he became the first Tanzanian to win African champions League with DR Congo giants TP Mazembe.
This time, he is not only the first Tanzanian football player to play and score in the UEFA Europa League and Champions League; But he now becomes the first Tanzanian football player to play in the English Premier League, which many pundits believe to be the best league in the World.
The government moved quickly to congratulate Samatta, with the Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, Harrison Mwakyembe, saying all Tanzanians are happy with the Samatta’s achievement.
“The government and all Tanzanians are pleased with what Samatta (Mbwana) has achieved in his football career. He becomes the first Tanzanian to play in English Premier League,” said Minister Mwakyembe in his statement.
Mwakyembe added that Samatta has opened the door for more Tanzanian players to join and play professional football at different countries in the world.
The Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) also through its Media and Communication Officer, Clifford Ndimbo, issued a congratulatory statement to Samatta yesterday.
“The federation wishes our national team, Taifa Stars captain all the best at his new club (Aston Villa). TFF believes that Samatta has the quality to continue prospering and his latest achievement at the top level will continue to open doors for more Tanzanian players to join foreign teams in Europe and other continents of the world,” reads part of the statement.
Ndimbo further said in a statement that the latest Samatta’s move will not only benefit him as a player but will also benefit the national team, whenever he is summoned.
“His efforts and slogan ‘Haina Kufeli (there is no failing) will continue to inspire and carry him high up and we believe for Samatta, the surge to the top is still very on,” said Ndimbo.
Simba SC Chairman of Board of Directors Mohamed Dewji alias ‘MO’ also joined the rejoicing choir. Dewji took to twitter; ‘Tanzania’s very own Mbwana Samatta joins Aston Villa!
The first Simba player to make it to the English Premier League. Good job champ! You make us all proud. Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Hamisi Kigwangalla also tweeted; Exciting moment for Tanzania as @Samagoal77_ signs for @ AVFCOfficial marking history as the first Tanzanian player to play the English premier league.
Samatta is our tourism goodwill ambassador and we wish him well in his new path to greatness. #TanzaniaUnforgettable #HK Another fan wrote; Dear, @ AVFCOfficial kindly note that, signing of our very own Samatta means that you’ve attracted over 57m Swahili population in your fan cycle.
A good move indeed from both career and business perspective, but that additional fanbase need a Swahili version of your pages. Tanzanians and the East African region exploded in delight following Mbwana Samatta’s deal to serve Aston Villa.
And, the East African football fans’ second focus now is in the Aston Villa’s EPL match this coming weekend where they hope to see Samatta in action. Samatta knows the kind of expectations his fans at home, and Tanzanians in general pin on him.
No matter Samatta feels proud to be making headlines for himself and his country. He said; “I’m so excited. It’s a huge step for me and my career. For all the people from Tanzania, it’s a big step for the country as well.
Everybody is so on it, they are looking to see one Tanzanian guy who can play in the Premier League. Here today I’m him, and I’m so happy.”
“Before I came here, not many people knew about Tanzanian football but that’s changing now,” Samatta said. Aston Villa Boss, Dean Smith told the official Villa website: “I’m really pleased we have managed to bring Mbwana (Samatta) to the club. “He has scored goals throughout his career and I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Samatta joined the Belgian side from African giants TP Mazembe, where he became the first Tanzanian to win African champions league.
Since his move to Belgium, Samatta made 191 appearances across all competitions. Samatta directly contributed to 96 goals (76 goals and 20 assists) and guided them to the 2018-2019 Belgian Pro League as well as the 2019 Belgian Super Cup.
Most of his goal contributions came in his 144 appearances in the league, but he was also quite prolific on the continental stage, having scored 17 goals in 36 between the Europa League and Champions League.
On the international level Samatta has made 39 (51 caps) appearances for Tanzania scoring 14 (18) goals and providing four assists.
He also captained Taifa Stars to their first Africa Cup of Nations finals in 39 years. Now the former Simba SC man will join Aston Villa where he will share a dressing room with Egyptian duo Mahmoud Hassan ‘Trezeguet’ and Ahmed Elmohammady.
Despite having produced some solid displays throughout the season, the Villans are currently battling to avoid relegation as they sit 18th with 21 points.
Their next game will be against 14th-placed Brighton on Saturday, January 18th. Samatta says he feels proud to be making headlines for himself and his country.
Kenyan International Victor Wanyama became the first East African to ever play in the EPL when he joined Southampton in 2013 and now Mbwana Samatta becomes the second and the first-ever Tanzanian to join an EPL side.