Marvelous Nakamba 22 Midfielder Vitesse Zimbabwe
Born in Hwange in western Zimbabwe, Marvelous Nakamba’s route into professional football was a little unorthodox. He played his first senior game for local side Bantu Rovers at the age of 16. In 2012 he joined AS Nancy and played many games for their second string between then and 2014.
His first game for Nancy’s first team came in May 2014. By July he was on trial at Vitesse, where he moved on a four-year contract. He’s been a fixture in the Vitesse midfield for the lion’s share of the intervening period and started 30 Eredivisie games in 2015/16.
2016 has been…
Stable. Nakamba has been first choice in the defensive midfielder role for Vitesse all year, and he knows the role inside out. On average he picks up a yellow card once every three or four games and he’s already served a one-match accumulation ban this season. And, yes, he’s exactly that kind of player.
Nakamba is a combative shield player who patrols around in front of the defensive line. He infrequently presses as high as the strikers; usually, he just engages quickly when the ball enters the space he looks after. He’s there to do a specific job and he does it beautifully.
He’s a terrier. He loves to win a 50/50 race to a loose ball, and that kind of approach comes with negatives at 22, of course. He lacks a little consistency in tackling and gives away fouls like they’re energy drinks at a deathcore festival.
He’s also capable of being over-ambitious when it comes to ‘big’ tackles, occasionally arriving rather late. Endearingly for Vitesse supporters and for us – but not for opposition fans – he seems to avoid as many bookings as he accrues.
But Nakamba is more than an enforcer. Although his pinpoint passing isn’t exactly perfect, he does have footballing quality as well as determination. He plays a mixed game in possession, sometimes very simple, sometimes more about being the driving force behind Vitesse’s most potent attacks.
He’s confident, patient and capable with the ball at his feet. He’s quick and can drive past a man with unsettling attacking aggression and his passing, when it works, has a deceptive range. His first touch is magnetic, and that’s just fine by us.
Nakamba is in the right place for now but a move to one of Europe’s handful of hyper-elite leagues might be on his mind next summer. With a long career ahead of him, another 18 months in Arnhem would do him no harm at all. Certainly apparent interest like the sniff from Anderlecht in the summer of 2016 shouldn’t turn his head.
Besides, he has the Africa Cup of Nations to worry about. Nakamba made his Zimbabwe debut in June 2015 and has only a few caps, but he’s been excellent in his early appearances for his country and was in their most recent squad. January might prove to be his biggest moment in the spotlight yet.
C+ Our kind of player
All images used have been kindly provided by the National Audubon Society in The United States under a Creative Commons License. The Society’s mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity. You can donate to their work, here.