Antony Njeru: Growing up and toughening up in football – the story

Anto1
Never Say die: Antony Njeru pursuing his football dream at Wazito FC

Born in Makongeni estate Nairobi to Josephat Njuki and Dorcas Kauro, Antony Njeru started playing football at Masa FC. When the family moved to Meru to start their business he had to migrate too.

 The beginning

When he came to Meru his objective was not to play football since he never knew much about football in Meru.  His dad met Isaac “Kupe” Muriki a worker in the Meru County Sports department who recruited Njeru in the Meru County Academy that had been initiated by Governor Munya in 2014.

Francis Xavier Influence

At the Meru County Academy the head coach was Francis Xavier a renowned Kenyan football legend. Antony started as a goalkeeper but Xavier immediately realized he was much more comfortable with the ball in his feet than other infield players. Xavier immediately transformed him into a defensive midfielder and told him he was a player of great promise. Xavier fielded him in inter county competitions in Laikipia county in Nanyuki in 2015. The player himself did not believe how Xavier had trusted him ahead of other more experienced players.

Football at the Grass root level

The lanky defensive midfielder played for Mahakama FC in the Upper Eastern provincial league, Mutindwa FC and Mitunguu FC in the FKF division 2 leagues. All the three teams were based in Meru. His one year stay with Bidii Sports Academy in Meru fine-tuned his football potential to a greater height.

Anto2
Antony Njeru (far right) playing for Bidii Sports Academy Under 19 team at Kinoru Stadium in 2016

Penning Signature with the bankers

After realizing Mitunguu FC was cash strapped and struggling in the league, the dedicated Antony attended a one week trial at KCB and impressed the Head Coach John Kamau. The year is 2018. “During the pre-season training I played as a first choice midfielder against established KPL teams like Mathare United, Bandari FC, and Ulinzi stars FC and Super league teams like Kibera Black Stars. That season I felt I was prepared mentally, physically, tactically and technically”. Says Antony. At KCB the management of the team preferred more experienced players because they had pressure to ascend to the top flight league. He was on and off in the starting lineup and when the transfer window opened he decided to seek for greener pastures.

Antony Njeru
Antony Njeru (2nd from left) playing for KCB against Ulinzi Stars in a friendly match at Afraha Stadium in 2018

Wazito FC calling

Eric Ochieng of KCB, formerly a Gor Mahia FC player motivated Antony Njeru to try out at Wazito FC despite playing the same position. At Wazito the CEO Solomon Alubala gave Antony the opportunity to play in a friendly match so that he would be assessed. During the trials at Wazito FC Njeru was among 5 other players battling for the same position of defensive midfield including his mentor Ochieng. He got his moment to showcase his talent and indeed he did not disappoint. There was no other option for Antony after the convincing show other than to pen down a signature at Wazito FC.

“I played for my new team mainly to get exposure and playing time. Despite no single cent for the signing fee I gave out all I could to the team. The Wazito players were my team-mates and soul mates and we shared a passion of playing together throughout the season” Fondly recalls Antony Njeru.

Anto4
KPL action: Antony Njeru (right) in a tussle for the ball with a Mathare United player at Machakos Stadium in 2018

2 days after Antony signed for Wazito FC you can imagine who would be their next opponent in the KPL. It was a well-organized Gor Mahia team. In the 2nd leg of the KPL Antony played virtually in all the matches. In the game against Tusker FC he was voted as the MVP by his team.

After the season his star shone brighter and got offers from KCB and Tusker FC but Alubale the superman advised him to be patient and gain more experience.

Joy and sorrow in 2019 Super League Season

Head Coach Ahmed Mohammed Mchulla started Antony in an unfamiliar offensive position in the first league match against City Stars and Kangemi United. Against Eldoret Youth he played as a fullback. After playing well he was on the terraces in the next matches. Despite the frustrations he continued to work harder. Coach Ahmed Mohammed Mchulla played him in several positions during his tenure as Coach at the team.

Anto5
I am more superior to you: Antony Njeru out paces a Modern Coast opponent in the 2019 National Super League (NSL) match at camp toyoyo grounds.

Coach Mchulla was sacked at the end of the first leg and in came Fred Ambani. Coach Ambani watched Njeru play in 2 friendly matches against Gor Mahia FC and KCB and asked him if he was a midfielder   or an offensive player. Ambani found him to be a fit a midfielder as he wished. “After playing well in midfield the new players asked why he had been turned in to an offensive player but there were no answers since it had already happened. Football has many dynamics..

Donning National Colors

 It is always every players dream to don the national team jersey at whatever level. When Njeru played for John Kamau’s KCB, the coach gave him an opportunity to join the National Under -23 team to showcase what he was made of. He played against a Meru combined team in the Madaraka day tournament at Kinoru stadium in Meru in 2018 which they won. He hopes to one day get a call up to the senior National Team Harambee Stars and play professional football one day and emulate the likes of revered Denise “the menace” Oliech and brothers Victor Wanyama and Mc Donald Mariga.

Anto6
National duty with U-23 team: Antony Njeru (center) enjoying the ride with team Captain Teddy Osok (right) and goalkeeper Emanuel (left)

Solomon Alubala influence: the Mastermind at Wazito FC.

 Solomon is an incredibly buoyant character who has made huge impact in Wazito FC. “Solomon has been my patron, mentor and father figure at Wazito FC. I feel Wazito Fc is home and the team is in my heart. I have fought for the team during relegation and financial crisis. In case I get any football offer I will leave it to Solomon to advise me since he has stood with him all through.” Says a dedicated Antony Njeru

One thought on “Antony Njeru: Growing up and toughening up in football – the story

  1. This much great coach. File more to inspire us to develop our talents. I would like to modelled by you

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s