Bigirimana will pay off whoever trusts him

  • By Hamza Nkuutu
  • October 14, 2012

Whatever the price that Gael Bigirimana commanded before he made his debut for Newcastle United has now more than doubled for whoever wins his heart for his international career.

Born in Bujumbura 18 years ago to a Burundian father and a Rwandese mother, the battling midfielder qualifies to play for either country, but having been raised in England (Coventry) since the age of 11 and seeing his profile grow from strength to strength, no one can blame him if harbours ambitions to play for the Three Lions.

A product of Coventry City academy, Bigi, as he’s referred to by his team mates, first at City and now at Newcastle United, has received glowing reviews by both his coaches and mates—and the times I have seen him play, I think he’s a real deal, and the sooner Rwanda made a move for him the better.

At this stage of his still budding career, the boy needs a place to call home in regards to fulfilling the dream of every professional sportsman or woman, which is to play at the international level for their countries.

He is far better than anything Amavubi has at the moment and he fits well into the new policy of using young players, but most importantly Amavubi provides him with a better opportunity to go places than Burundi’s Ingamba Kurugamba.

For not to end up like Mohamed ‘Meme’ Tchite, who I’m very sure he knows quite well, Bigi seem to have a better management team to handle his case and help him fulfil all his aspirations as a professional footballer.

Tchite messed up his career, at least at the international level even before it started and he will leave to regret it for the rest of his life, however much he has earned for being a journeyman in European clubs.

The striker, so proficient at the time and delivered the goods for all clubs he has played for, was caught in the middle of a row involving Burundi and Belgium, both sides claiming his ownership while Rwanda was anxiously waiting in the wings to make a killer move for his services.

And for what I suspect was bad counsel on the side of his management team, Tchite ended up not playing for any of the three countries because he failed to make a decision—now he’s too old to attract further interest. What a pit!

While Tchite dithered and ended up not having an international career like he dreamed as a youngster making his way in Mukura in the early 2000s, Bigi, by virtue of living in the UK for last seven years or so, will get the right counsel and it could be difference between him realizing his dream and ending up just like his compatriot.

His former coaches at Coventry City liken his style to Michel Essien and at Newcastle United, he trains alongside a player he is most likely to replace in the near future, Cheik Tiote, the Ivorian midfielder enforcer, who has attracted interest from the likes of Man United, Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal.

Since joining Newcastle in July, a side that finished 5th in the English Premier League last season, and playing the Europa League, the youngster has not looked out of place whatsoever, instead he has been assured in his nine appearances so far.

His range of passing and retrieving possession is top drawer and you can see that with more learning and settling in the new environment, it’s just a matter of time before he establishes himself in Allan Perdew’s side whose major weapon is hard work and team-work ethic.

He was handed his senior debut in the 1-1 Europa League qualifier draw with Atromitos in Athens on August 23 and has since made eight further appearances, five of them as a substitute, in Europe, the Capital One Cup and the Barclays Premier League.

Last year, the boy was in Kigali and had talks with the Ferwafa people, the outcome of those talks remain mysterious to date but now with his stock at Newcastle United rising faster than many anticipated, so has his price.

Nevertheless, the most encouraging side of it is whoever wins his heart, has a big player for the future—in Rwanda fans already refer to him as Umunyarwanda whenever he comes on for Newcastle United, so why not the powers-that-be of Rwandan football sell him their vision.

Contact email: nku78[at]

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