The Sunday Mail
HE might have missed a golden opportunity to play in the world’s elite inter-club competition — the UEFA Champions League — but France-based Zimbabwean international Tino Kadewere (pictured right) remains grateful for what he describes as “his best ever season”.
The 24-year-old Le Havre striker, who will join his new club Olympic Lyon next season, was last week handed the Ligue 2 Golden Boot following the cancelation of the season due to the Covid-19 disease, which had claimed 25 594 lives in France by yesterday.
Kadewere led the goal charts with 20 goals, three ahead of Clermont’s Adrian Grbic, when the French Ligue 2 was initially suspended on March 13.
But last week, French Prime Minister Edouard Philipe announced that no sporting events would take place in that country until at least September, ruling out the already slim chances of finishing the football season.
Paris Saint-Germain, who led the log standings in France’s top-flight division, were subsequently crowned Ligue 1 champions after French football authorities decided that the league’s final standings would be determined by a points-per-game system.
And Lyon, who were seventh when the league was suspended, will not be part of the Champions League competition for the first time since 1997.
However, Kadewere, who has dedicated his Golden Boot to his late father Onias, was still ecstatic when The Sunday Mail Sport spoke to him from his base on Friday night.
“The season itself was great, this was the best season I have ever had in my career.
“But I am also very sad that we did not manage to finish the season because I would have loved to make history with the club.
“I am very proud to be crowned top goalscorer. It is a huge achievement for me and I am also happy to be making Zimbabweans proud.
“But, above all, I am making my late father proud, wherever he is,” said the former Harare City forward.
Kadewere’s father ran a football academy in Harare’s high-density suburb of Highfield before he passed away on January 22 2015.
He was also the Harare Province Junior League chairperson at the time of his death.
According to Kadewere’s mother, Mavis, it was always the late father’s wish to see Tino succeed in football.
And the Warriors striker is doing just that.
Kadewere is now earning roughly US$42 000 per week and is gearing for the long-awaited move to Lyon, who signed the Warriors international in January before immediately loaning him back to the French Ligue 2 side.
Lyon will, however, not feature in the 2020-2021 Champions League, but that has not stopped Kadewere from being thankful.
“Moving to Lyon is a huge and great opportunity for me and I cannot wait to be starting with them next season.
“It has always been my dream to play for a huge club and it is all because of God.”
At Lyon, Kadewere will link up with the former Manchester United duo of striker Memphis Depay and right-back Rafael da Silva.
The Zimbabwean star striker will also fight for the starting jersey with the likes of former Chelsea player Bertrand Traore and one of the most sought-after strikers in Europe — Moussa Dembele.
The French striker is also on the radar of both Chelsea and Manchester United.
“You have to play with the best for you to become the best. I am glad I will be linking up with world football stars,” said Kadewere.
As has become the norm these days, few conversations end without mentioning the coronavirus and its effects on communities.
Kadewere naturally talked about his foundation, which is run by his elder brother, Prosper.
“I am safe here in France.
“The situation in Le Havre at the moment is a bit better but we are still taking good care of ourselves and making sure we stay indoors all the time,” said the Warriors striker.
According to French statistics on the coronavirus, there is only one case and no deaths in Le Havre.
“But, coronavirus has done a lot of damage in the world and people need to help each other.
“In my childhood area (Highfield) I will be doing the same in a few days to come. As a team here, we agreed as players to donate 30 percent of our salaries to help hospitals. “The Kadewere Foundation will be assisting the old in Highfield in a few days. My brothers, led by the boss Prosper, will be distributing some hampers.
“All the same, I am urging all Zimbabweans to stay safe and remember to be indoors; follow all the procedures,” he said.