Zimbabwe international midfielder Kundai Benyu, who recently gate-crashed into the Warriors’ finals Afcon squad, has revealed snubbing Premier League clubs Aston Villa, Tottenham and Westham for Scottish giants Celtic where he eventually had a forgettable stint five year ago.
Benyu was a highly rated football prospect in English football when he joined Celtic from English side Ipswich Town in 2017 and the then Celtic coach Brendon Rodgers had to give the youngster a personal call to lure him to the Parkhead.
The talented midfielder would go on to make just four appearances, one in the league, two in the EUFA Champions League qualifiers and one in the league cup, for Celtic before he was loaned to Oldham Athletic the following season
Another loan spell at Swedish side Helsingborgs IF ensued in 2019 before he was eventually sold to English National League side Wealdstone FC in October 2020.
“Celtic played Champions League and that was always appealing to me. Brendan (Rodgers) actually called me personally which was amazing. Aston Villa, Tottenham, West Ham and all the other clubs just sent representatives but Brendan calling was major for me,” the 24-year-old revealed in an interview with Football Scotland.
He reflects on what could have gone wrong at Celtic.
“It’s always difficult to change a winning team. The times I did play I enjoyed it, albeit it was frustrating because I wanted to play more, but that’s football.”
“(Later) I wasn’t angry at all but I was really frustrated because I wasn’t given a fair chance.
“I believe in my ability and I was better than some people but it didn’t matter what I did in training, certain players would still get the nod ahead of me. If I said something, people would say I had a bad attitude, but I just wanted to play and show what I could do.
“I have no regrets but a lot was promised that wasn’t delivered. For a young player, the stadium and Champions League potential was so appealing and I did everything and beyond, it just didn’t work out.
“I try to be as professional as possible and I did knock on the door because I wanted to play and prove myself. I went to Celtic not to warm the bench but I understood we had experience and that’s what kept the team winning.
“It was always difficult not to blame anyone or point fingers at anyone, but in football you also need luck,” he said.
Benyu now plays for Iceland second tier league side Vestri but would be looking to impress for Zimbabwe and possibly earn himself a big move at the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations which begin on January 9 in Cameroon.
The London-born midfielder was a surprise inclusion in the final 23 member squad to do duty in Cameroon having been overlooked in the provisional squad.
The Warriors squad which arrived at their base in Cameroon on Thursday began preparation for the African championships on Friday.
Two friendly matches against Sudan on January 2 and hosts Cameroon on January 4.
Zimbabwe are in Group B alongside Senegal, Guinea and Malawi.