2019 was yet another year that saw many celebrities visiting Rwanda, something that – in many ways – contributes to the country’s ambition to become a top tourist destination. Global superstars in various fields visited, and sports was not left behind, Saturday Sport’s Lavie Mutanganshuro looks at eight famous sports figures who visited the country this year. Gianni Infantino speaks in Kigali this month. Gianni Infantino Following his 2018 visit, FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, again visited the country this year. Infantino was attending the 4th edition of the International Anti-Corruption Excellence (ACE) Awards in Kigali where he assured the world that FIFA is now stronger and healthier than ever following corruption scandals that rocked the institution in 2015. At the sideline of the event, Infantino held talks with Sports Minister Aurore Mimosa Munyangaju with whom they discussed FIFA football development programmes, particularly the Football for School Initiative. David Luiz Arsenal and Brazilian star, David Luiz had a two-day visit to Rwanda in October. His call on was part of the three-year ‘Visit Rwanda’ deal between the Government of Rwanda and the English Premier League club. Among other tourist destinations, Luiz had an encounter with the majestic mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park. Before concluding his visit, he was received by President Paul Kagame before meeting Rwanda Arsenal Fans at Kigali Convention Centre. During the meeting with local Arsenal fans, and via all his social media platforms, Luiz said that he had a ‘wonderful experience in Rwanda’ and promised to recommend his friends to visit the country. Didier Drogba Chelsea legend and former Côte d’Ivoire captain Didier Drogba also visited the country in October, around the time his former teammate Luiz was visiting. Drogba, who is currently a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, was attending the Youth Connekt Africa Summit where he challenged a gathering of more than 3,000 people to work hard. Tennis icon Maria Sharapova visited the country last month, and had an encounter with the majestic mountain gorillas. Courtesy photos. Maria Sharapova Tennis icon and former world number 1 Maria Sharapova also enjoyed the best Rwanda has to offer last month. And, like Luiz, the five-time grand slam winner met President Kagame and visited the gorillas. Van Gaal also trekked the mountain gorillas in Kinigi. Louis Van Gaal Former Manchester United and Barcelona manager Louis van Gaal was in the country in September for almost a whole week. On his first visit to the country, Van Gaal was among the namers for this year’s gorilla naming ‘Kwita Izina’ ceremony in Kinigi, Musanze District. He named his baby gorilla ‘Ingogozi’. Masai Ujiri Ujiri, the President of NBA champions Toronto Raptors, has visited Rwanda several times over the years – and at times more than once in a year. During his visit in July this year, he visited Kigali Arena together with President Kagame. For his role in developing basketball in Africa through his initiative Giants of Africa, Ujiri was also recognized by President Kagame while he officiated the inauguration of the state-of-the-art facility in August. Tony Adams The former England international, and retired Arsenal skipper, Tony Admas, also visited in September and was as well among the global stars who named the 25 baby gorillas this year. Adams, who spent his entire playing career of 22 years as a centre-back at Arsenal, named his baby gorilla ‘Sura u Rwanda’ which means ‘Visit Rwanda’. NBA legend Jerome Williams during his visit to Rwanda in October. Jerome Williams Before retiring in 2005, the NBA legend Jerome Williams played for a number of teams such as Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls and the New York Nicks. Fondly known as Junk Yard Dog, the 46-year old – accompanied by NBA officials – was in the country for the launch of a new basketball court at IPRC-Kigali in October.