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Ryan Ross On August - 21 - 2010

Player Profile: McDonald Mariga

Player Profile: McDonald Mariga

Born: Nairobi, Kenya

Date of Birth: 4/04/87

Position: Midfield

Club: Internazionale

Achievements: Serie A: 2009-10. Coppa Italia: 2010. UEFA Champions League: 2009-10

Bio

It’s been a rapid rise for Kenya’s biggest football star. A youth career which saw him lift two National Championships for his school Kamukunji High School “Golden Boys” in 2002 and 2003, subsequently securing a move to Pipeline FC.

Mariga moved to Sweden to play for Enköpings SK of the 3rd division in 2005. He only made one appearance for them however, and shortly moved to Helsingborgs IF in 2006. It was during his time at Helsinborgs IF that he began to get noticed; he played 37 games for them scoring 6 goals. Henrik Larsson was also at the club during Mariga’s stay.

Good performances on the pitch led to Italian side Parma swooping in and taking Mariga to the Peninsula on a loan basis in 2007. He made 18 appearances for the club in Serie A, but despite getting a run in the team Parma were relegated after losing to Inter Milan 2-0 on the last day of the season. Having played under 3 different coaches Mariga’s progress was not hindered and he convinced the Italians to buy him for €2million and signed a 4-year contract.

2007-2008 saw Parma battling to gain promotion back to Serie A and Mariga became a key part of their team. Things did not initially go well and the manager Luca Cagni was sacked after only 6 games. Francesco Guidolin came in and secured the promotion with 2 games to spare. Mariga made 35 appearances that season scoring 3 goals along the way. Things were looking good for Parma and Mariga was beginning to make a name for himself.

2009-10 was the biggest year of Mariga’s career to date. He played 9 times for Parma as they began the season in great form, even reaching the Champions League places. This good form encouraged Roberto Mancini of Manchester City to take a look at this vibrant midfield maestro. Advances were made by City in January and they had agreed a deal with Parma to take the player to Eastlands; but the deal hit a snag after the FA turned down a work-permit for the player. Things did not look good for Mariga and his dream of playing in England was crushed. However, one Jose Mourinho noticed the hold-up with the player’s move to Man City and Internazionale moved to make Mariga dream once more.

February 1st 2010 is perhaps the most important day in McDonald Mariga’s life; this is after all the day which saw him complete a €7million to the Italian Champions. Mariga had to wait for his debut though, but it came in the Coppa Italia Semi-Final against Fiorentina; Inter went on to win the match 1-0. Further appearances came in Serie A and he played an important role as Inter maintained their pursuit for a historic treble; he played 8 times, scoring 1 goal. Perhaps Mariga’s proudest moment was when he made his Champion’s League bow against Chelsea as a substitute; this made him the first ever Kenyan player to play in the competition. A magnificent 6 months was capped when Inter won the Champion’s League by beating Bayern Munich in May at the Bernabeu in Madrid; McDonald Mariga could not have wished for a better start.

Looking onwards, 2010-11 is going to be a massive season for Mariga. He needs to prove to new manager Rafael Benitez that he is good enough to maintain a first-team place for Inter and help them continue what has been a fabulous year in the club’s history. This task will not be easy though; players such as Wesley Sneijder, Stankovic, Cambiasso, Muntari and Motta stand in the Kenyan’s way. But for someone who has achieved so much in so little time, why can’t McDonald Mariga fly the Kenyan flag in another title-conquering season? I certainly hope he continues this startling up rise.

Ryan Ross

I became enthralled with Calcio back in the 90’s, when James Richardson presented Football Italia. My early mornings were spent following the trials and tribulations of Internazionale, during a period where they always flattered to deceive. It took a Frenchman to get me hooked though; Youri Djorkaeff, my favourite player of all time. This guy was key to Inter’s midfield, never mind his role in France’s World Cup win in 1998! I have a keen interest in Calcio’s rich history.

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