Dear readers, many of you might recall that we slightly modified the title of our weekly sports feature from ‘Inside the Aged’ to ‘Tales of the Legends’, since the inception of this noble idea in 2007, to acknowledge the achievements and unpack untold tales of our sports heroes and heroines, past and present.
In today’s special edition of your favourite weekly sports feature, New Era Sports brings to you our esteemed readers something slightly different, as we unpack the full and untold story of a young and highly gifted footballer of Namibian descent plying his trade on foreign soil.
Born in Katima Mulilo in the vast populated Zambezi Region 1997, the name Ryan Simasiku Nyambe might sound a bit alien to many, but the up and coming young Namibian is certainly destined for the bigger stage.
Hardly out of his pair of shorts, Ryan is on the verge of rewriting the history books and could soon have his name engraved in the golden pages of our national archives – only time will tell.
We caught up with the 18-year-old fullback, the first Namibian footballer ever to strut his stuff in the highly competitive English second-tier league. The handsome Black Rovers protégé is currently on vacation in his native land.
New Era Sport managed to corner the shy young man and seized the opportunity to probe into his background and football journey in the United Kingdom.
Aged just ten, young Ryan Simasiku was shipped to Manchester, England to join his mother Selma Chaka, a professional nurse who works in the United Kingdom.
Although he was raised in Windhoek by his aunt, Bernadette Nyambe, young Ryan never really got to play competitive football in properly organised structures in his native land and only developed a serious interest in the game once he arrived in freezing cold England in 2007.
The exciting young fullback has just completed a Diploma in Sports Science. He says football is a short career and urges other would-be footballers to focus on education so they can have something to fall back on once their playing days are over.
Although the young Namibian defender has been finding it hard to break into the Blackburn Rovers’ first team, he was on the substitutes’ bench against English giants Liverpool in the FA League Cup quarterfinal, certainly an achievement in itself.
CK: Ryan, can you please tell us a bit more about your football career?
RN: Well, I started playing football with my cousins in Windhoek, but it was only street football and nothing really serious, In all honesty, It never crossed my mind that I would be playing professional football at some stage.
CK: Being an adopted Mancunean, how did you end up signing for Blackburn Rovers instead of Manchester City or Manchester United?
RN: Actually, I live with my mom in Wythenshave and was playing for a non-league club from neigbourhood Wythenshave Football Club, based in Lancashire. What actually transpired is that one of the Blackburn Rovers talent scouts spotted me playing for my local club and managed to convince me to join Rovers at the age of 11.
CK: As a foreigner how did you manage to quickly integrate into the direct and physical style of English football and overall cultural behaviour, including adjusting to the often freezing weather conditions?
RN: It all boils down to good behaviour. The bottomline for all athletes is to keep your feet on the ground, listen attentively to your coaches, exercise discipline at all times by arriving at training sessions on time and, above all, showing respect towards your teammates and those around you in the structures.
CK: Looking at your physique, you appear to be more than ready to compete at the highest level and having played regularly for all the youth teams since you made your club debut in under-13’s, when can we expect to see you breaking into the first team.
RN: Football is about patience, I’ve been biding my time, but at 18, I’m still quite young and learning. However, that doen’t dampen my ambitions to break into the senior side. In fact I’ve been occasionally selected in the match day squad for the first team.
CK: So far, how would you rate your overall performance and contribution to the Blackburn Rovers second strings?
RN: The reserves league in England is extremely competitive, we’re not only competing in England, the team also takes part in international tournaments beyond the borders of England.
CK: Could you give us a brief review of your international experience?
RN: Like I’ve said before, football is taken seriously in Europe, one has to adopt a sound professional attitude at all times. It’s a lucrative industry and people are very passionate about football over there. Back to my international experience, I can recall playing in a youth tournament in Russia under the auspices of Spartak Moscow FC in 2014. We finished third overall and I was voted the best defender of the tournament.
CK: What is the life of a footballer in England like? What keeps you ticking?
RN: It requires a lot of self-discipline by maintaining strong integrity. I don’t engage in actions that could potentially distract my focus and put my football career in jeopardy. For instance, I don’t go out clubbing. I live a complete clean life.
CK: Apart from football, what other sporting disciplines have you tried?
RN: I used to be a 200-meter hurdler at primary school, but my main focus was always on football, so when I was taken into the Blackburn Rovers youth structures, I stopped taking part in athletics.
CK: Namibians are anxiously waiting to see you representing your country of birth, would you consider turning out for the Brave Warriors should you receive a call up?
RN: No comment please!
CK: Would I then be faulted for concluding you have no ambitions to represent Namibia internationally and since you are a confirmed British citizen, would you rather play for England should the opportunity arise?
RN: No comment please!
CK: Ryan thanks a lot for your time and I wish the best on your future endeavours.
RN: My pleasure, and let me thank you as well.