Victor Wanyama has announced his retirement from international football, after 15 years of service for the Kenyan national team, Harambee Stars. Wanyama, who currently plays for Major League Soccer [MLS] side CF Montreal made his announcement vide a statement on social media.
He ends his time with Kenya’s senior team having made 71 appearances with the national team and scoring seven goals. His last goal for Kenya was in the 3-0 victory over Ethiopia, enroute to qualifying for the 2019 TotaleEnergies Africa Cup of Nations [AFCON].
His last match for Harambee Stars was the 2021 AFCON qualifier away to Comoros which Kenya lost 1-0.
“We have shared great moments together and I am proud to have been your captain and leader. But all good things must come to an end eventually; and after a long consideration, I have made the really difficult decision to retire from international football,” Wanyama said on his statement.
He added; “Time has come to hand over the team to the next generation so that they too can make their mark and help our country reach even greater heights. I hope to return one day to help the federation off the field but until then, I will still be the Harambee Stars’ biggest supporter and I will be cheering you guys on from the sidelines.”
Wanyama, a revered midfielder who became the first East African to play in the English Premier League made his debut as a 15 year old teenager in 2007, coming on as a substitute in a friendly match against Nigeria.
He went on to grow in stature and became a household name, partnering in midfield with his elder brother MacDonald Mariga, before he took over the mantle after the latter retired.
He was handed the captaincy in 2014 by former coach Adel Amrouche after the retirement of Dennis Oliech.
Meanwhile, Football Kenya Federation has said that Wanyama is open to joining the national team at whichever capacity once he retires from international football.
“The federation remains cognizant of Victor’s contribution to Kenyan football and believes the country will continue to benefit from his leadership and experience in the future. The door will always be open for Victor to contribute to the development of the game and the national team,” FKF Chief Executive Officer Barry Otieno said.
Most Kenyan fans had hoped that Wanyama, nicknamed The Lion of Muthurwa would have been recalled by new coach Engin Firat ahead of next month’s Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, but his statement has now put the matter to rest.