The Rise And Rise Of Mbwana Samatta To The English Premier League

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The “255-Champion boy Mbwana Samatta”, like his compatriot and rapper “Darassa” calls him in the first line and stanza of his hit single “Muziki”, was unveiled by Premier League side, Aston Villa, as one of its new signings, on January 20, 2020.

Samatta, who signed a four-and-half year deal (valued at £8.5 million) moving from Belgium’s KRC Genk, made history as the first Tanzanian to play in the Premier League, and the second East African to do so after Kenya’s Victor Wanyama.

The 27-years-old winger, was in the news last summer after finishing as the top goal scorer in the Belgium top tier league with 20 goals, a performance he capped up with a fantastic individual display at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

After the outstanding 2018/19 season in the Belgian top league, several clubs came chasing for his services; Leicester City put in a £12m bid to acquire the then KRC Gent marksman, after the likes of Cardiff, Middlesborough, Watford, Burnley, Lazio and Schalke had already made their interest clear.

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The appetite for Samatta’s signature by all the above clubs then waned, but that did not dampen his spirits, because prior to his move to Villa Park, the Tanzanian star had already scored a total of 10 goals for KRC Genk this season, including his stunner against Liverpool in the Champions League.

It was only a matter of time before the ‘Taifa Stars’ Captain would eventually make his big move to the Premier League, because of his proven individual brilliance, dating from his playing days on the African continent.

In 2015 Samatta emerged the best scorer of the Confederation of African Football’s Champions League, a performance that fired his then club side, TP Mazembe of DRC, to the final and eventually winning the coveted club football cup on the continent.

The following year, on January 7, 2016, the Tanzania Captain was named the CAF Africa Player of the Year, in the category of players based on the continent, following his incredible goal-scoring at the continental club competition that season.

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Samatta, a former Simba Sports Club player, started his soccer career at the little-known Africa Lyon, before making a move to the Tanzanian giants, Simba S.C youth side in the coastal city of Dar es salaam (2010).

After only half a season at the Vodacom Tanzania League, he had scored 13 goals in 25 appearances for Simba Sports Club.

Samatta would then catch the eye of the then TP Mazembe’s Senegalese Head Coach, Lamine N’Diaye to sign him at the age of 19.

It is at Africa’s best, TP Mazembe, that Samatta carved a niche for himself. In his 5 seasons at the club, he played more than a 100 games, scored 60 goals, and won 5 league titles, with the peak of it being the 2015 CAF Champions League title.

After his half a decade with TP Mazembe, it was time to move Samagoal as he is fondly referred to by his fans; Belgium’s KRC Genk was Samatta’s new home after Mazembe, where he leaves an enviable goalscoring record, that includes: a league title (2018/19), and a Belgian Super Cup (2019).

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It is without a doubt that his move to Aston Villa is just be the beginning of better memorable days for Samatta, a player whose new coach Dean Smith, fondly describes as a ‘goal-scoring machine’ with an attitude so rare you cannot quantify in terms of money, and as such you cannot buy it.

While Tanzania is happy for its first player and citizen in the Premier League, East Africa is indeed elated too.

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