The early love that Marvelous Nakamba has gained is similar to that of John McGinn’s last season.
At the start of the summer, Dean Smith and Christian Purslow were interviewed – mere days after the Play-Off Final win – with the pair disclosing their plans for a ‘player profile’ in regards to future signings.
This, in short, was that the players arriving at the club were young, hungry and with a good character and personality. Purslow went on to thank former manager Steve Bruce for the ‘perfect signing’ to fit into this player profile in John McGinn.
Within one game for the club, John McGinn had endeared himself to the Aston Villa faithful. His debut against Wigan Athletic in the Sky Bet Championship last season was one of the brightest seen at Villa Park within decades as the Scotland international picked up two assists and a 100% tackle success rate in his first 94 minutes for the club.
McGinn went from strength to strength, and now boasts his own chant, nickname, amongst a sea of adoring fans that consider him a vital cog in how Aston Villa play.
Marvelous has had somewhat of a similar arrival to that of McGinn, and fans have fallen in love with the Zimbabwean within his four Premier League appearances against West Ham, Arsenal, Burnley and Norwich City.
During the summer, there were fans that adored him before he’d even signed his contract at Aston Villa; providing the sparks for the eventual bonfire that has become the fanbase’s love for the former Club Brugge man.
Now fans adorn their Twitter profiles with the Zimbabwean flag, hoping to befriend and entice Zimbabwe natives into supporting the club or at the very least supporting their now most famous current player.
Zimbabwean journalist Adam Theofilatos is not surprised at how quickly Marvelous Nakamba has made a name for himself at Aston Villa.
“Zimbabweans have a way of sticking out in a crowd no matter where they are, and as far as footballers come, Nakamba is one of the nicest out there.”
“I don’t think it would come as a shock to anyone who knows him that he has become a fan favourite already.”
“There are stories of Aston Villa fans that have met him and told how refreshingly king and welcoming – and that goes a long way – but on the pitch Marvelous is answering all of the right questions.”
In the space of a few short months, Marvelous Nakamba’s fan base in his country of birth has grown tenfold due to his move to Aston Villa. To followers of the Zimbabwean Leagues, namely the Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League, and their national team, Marvelous had always been one of five or so players tipped for success on the big stage.
Marvelous has now reached that ‘big stage’ and has done it by working his way up through the Zimbabwean and continental European clubs.
Some fans may argue that Nakamba has reached his level at Aston Villa, with the newly promoted side potentially being somewhat of a ‘ceiling’ in his career. But Theofilatos feels differently.
“It definitely feels like Marvelous is yet to hit his peak if his past few weeks at Villa Park are anything to go by.”
“It’s clear that he’s found a team where he can really express himself and showcase what he is all about as a footballer.”
“We as Zimbabwean fans have seen what he can do for The Warriors (the Zimbabwe National Football Team) and for Brugge, but I have a hunch that what we have witnessed is just a taster of what is to come and Marvelous is going to really burst onto the scene when he’s properly found his feet.”
“With that being said I really hope he continues his good form, bags a few goals and commits himself to a long term future at Villa – but I also wouldn’t be shocked to see interest from other Premier League sides.”
Zimbabwean football fans have had disappointments of late, with a few players making the move to Europe and struggling to make a name for themselves – but Marvelous Nakamba’s free-flowing, confident and assured performances have ensured that the first Zimbabwean player to play in the Premier League for just short of a decade looks like he will make the cut.
The fans are passionate and followed the likes of Peter Ndlovu and Benjani, as well as one or two others, with adoration and furore. The Premier League has always left these fans starry-eyed.
“It’s the league most football fans in Zim follow, and in normal circumstances, most have only had eyes for the big four of Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal,” says Theofilatos, who has worked with The New York Post and The Telegraph in the past.
Marvelous has always had a following, but his fan base has only really reached the level it is currently at due to his move from Club Brugge. But as is evident now on social media, Zimbabweans have all become absolutely Aston Villa mad.
“Everyone I know has become a Villa fan. There isn’t a poll with Nakamba’s name on that he isn’t winning by thousands of votes.”
“Every football-loving (or not loving) Zimbabwean has come out of the woodwork to try and show their support for Marvelous Nakamba and indeed Aston Villa.”
“All credit to the Villa fans who have welcomed Nakamba and Zimbabweans alike with open arms – we all truly feel a part of the Aston Villa family and long may it last.”
Aston Villa have jumped to adore Nakamba, and the Zimbabwean fans have cloned this adoration for the club. It’s great to see what one player can do in regards to building relationships across continents, all over a mutual interest.
Like the original lyrics to his “do do do, Marvelous Nakamba” chant, you are invited to join in with the party. The Nakamba party has only just begun, and it’s heading forward, full steam ahead.