Kenya’s rising football star, Henry Ochieng, believes Harambee Stars skipper, Victor Wanyama, is the most underrated player in the English Premier League.
The West Ham Academy graduate is however quick to point out that Chelsea’s French midfielder Ngolo Kante is the footballer who inspires him most.
The Kenyan youngster, who turns out for National League side Braintree Town in England, made the observations in an exclusive interview with Nairobi News at Clarence Hotel in Nairobi, where he was working out alongside famed fitness trainer Kevin Okwachi and life coach John Wainaina.
“I haven’t met him (Wanyama) yet even though we both stay in London,” said Ochieng, who has lived in England all his life.
“I have been following his work, he does a lot on the pitch. Nobody seems to recognize this. It is interesting,” said the 20-year old.
Ochieng made his debut for Kenya in the national U-23 team’s 5-0 thumping of Mauritius in an Africa Cup of Nations qualification match last Wednesday in Nairobi.
The team beat their hapless opponents 3-1 away from home last weekend for an 8-1 aggregate win at the weekend.
During the first leg match, the central midfield player impressed with his defensive tackles, positioning, awareness, and distribution.
This result keeps Kenya on course to securing a first-ever appearance in the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations due in Egypt next year.
It is from this eight-nation tournament that the three African representatives to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be known.
Ochieng was initially called up by coach Sebastian Migne to the Harambee Stars squad ahead of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Sierra Leone.
That game was however called off by the Confederation of African Football (Caf), leading to his inclusion in the U23 side coached Francis Kimanzi.
“It was a unique but interesting experience alongside the national team lads who are so talented and full of life that I was amazed,” the former Leyton Orient player said.
“The style of football is different. Here, I noticed you are allowed to find one long pass to the other end of the pitch. In England it is pass-pass-pass. I know we will face stronger teams but my belief is we can make it to the Olympics,” he added.
Ochieng’s parents hail from Kendu Bay in Homa Bay County but relocated to England before he was born.
He considers being selected for his exemplary performance as an Olympics torchbearer in 2012 as the most memorable moment of his life.