Marshall Munetsi of Orlando Pirates is challenged by Eleazar Rodgers of Free State Stars. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

CAIRO – Former Orlando Pirates utility player, Marshall Munetsi, described his time with the Buccaneers as challenging and difficult, but he is glad he stuck it out.

The Zimbabwean used the Buccaneers as a springboard to Ligue 1 where he will turn out for Stade Reims.

His journey to French football was tough. He didn’t always have it his way at Pirates. The 23-year-old signed for Pirates from the National First Division (NFD) in 2016, but only had his breakthrough season two years later after being sent on loan at Baroka FC.

“It was challenging,” Munetsi said. “When I signed, I went on loan and then when I came back, I spent the first six months without playing. And then they had to convert me to play at the back. It was very difficult for me, I don’t want to lie. It was stressful at times. But you have to adjust to a different position and be flexible as a player. I am glad that it worked out.”

Munetsi was moved from central midfield to centreback at Pirates due to the competition for places in midfield. He held his own at the back even though his national team continued to use him in midfield, which is where he has been playing for the Warriors in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

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“It hasn’t been easy journey, but I pushed through to get to where I am now as a player,” Munetsi said. “I am very glad about the progress that I have made. The negotiations were ongoing when the season finished.

It was just a matter of me having patience and focusing on the national team. I am just glad that Orlando Pirates released me and gave me the opportunity to fulfil my dream.

“Reims said that they started to look at me when I signed for Pirates. They were monitoring my progress. They followed me when I was at Baroka and then I came back.”

Munetsi was moved from central midfield to centre-back at Pirates. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

Munetsi was full of praise for the Buccaneers’ technical team that transformed him as a player, helping the Zimbabwean to take his game to the next level by going to a league where he will compete with global superstars like Kylian Mbappe.

“This is a great achievement,” Munetsi said. “I just have to keep on working hard. As a young player you just have to hope for the best. There is a coach who can come and give you a platform to play and there is a coach who can come and then take you out on loan.

I am just grateful for coach Micho (Milutin Sredojevic) and coach Rhulani (Mokwena) for giving me the opportunity to play and have faith in me. They helped me with my career.”

Munetsi will be the sixth player to ply his trade on another continent in the 23-man Zimbabwe selected for the Afcon.

His move abroad is part of a growing list of Zimbabweans moving to Europe.

Malik Said