Former Kenyan international footballer Mcdonald Mariga has revealed the untold story of how Kenya’s low FIFA ranking in 2010 dashed his dreams of becoming the first Kenyan player to grace the English Premier League (EPL) with Manchester City.
In an exclusive interview with Radio 47, Mariga recounted the frustrating turn of events that transpired during his attempt to join the ranks of one of England’s top football clubs.
The Kenyan midfielder disclosed that despite signing a contract with Manchester City, he was denied the opportunity to play for the club due to stringent work permit regulations at the time.
“I left Parma and went to Manchester City directly; they brought me a private jet,” Mariga stated, describing the anticipation and excitement surrounding his move.
“My agent and I arrived in Manchester, I did a medical, and I signed the contract, but at that time, the rules stipulated that you must have played 70 percent of matches for your national team, and I ticked that box. The problem was our rankings.”
Mariga expressed his frustration with the FIFA rankings system, emphasizing that despite meeting the eligibility criteria, his dream was shattered by factors beyond his control.
“Our rankings denied me the opportunity to play for City. I stayed there for five days trying to sort this issue, but it was not possible to get a work permit,” he revealed.
Despite receiving endorsements from coaches in Italy who vouched for his talent and discipline, Mariga’s efforts to overcome the bureaucratic hurdles proved futile.
“All coaches in Italy put in a good word for me. They said I am talented, disciplined, but we still did not succeed,” Mariga lamented.
The Kenyan international, visibly disappointed by the turn of events, recalled his return to Parma via the same private jet that had initially taken him to Manchester.
The missed opportunity marked a significant chapter in Mariga’s career, highlighting the challenges faced by players in navigating the complex world of international football transfers.