Emmanuel Banda is one of many highly-talented, young Zambian footballers coming through from U20 level, who has the potential to become one of the great African players. We caught up with the 20-year-old forward to talk about how he's got to where he is today in Belgium, his hope for the Zambia national team and also why his Christian faith is so important to him:
Emmanuel spoke with Planet Sport Football Africa's Liam Flint. . .
On how he first got spotted in Zambia. . . "We played in a game that was live on Sky Sports and I would say that it was actually one of my best games in 2016. After the game I received a call from the man who is my manager now, from Mozambique, he said that he wanted to work with me and try to get me a move to Europe. We agreed terms and he took me to Portugal."
On playing his football in Belgium for Oostende. . . “Playing in Europe has really been a good thing for me, it’s helped me improve as a player in all aspects. I’ve learnt about new cultures of playing football, with the style of play in Belgium and we have all the resources at our disposal, any time we need them. That’s really good because it helps a player to improve much faster. Playing football at home in Zambia, resources are a bit limited and so I think almost every African player dreams of coming to play in top flight football.”
On how he handles the pressure and hype of people’s growing expectations. . . "At times you know that it is a motivating factor for you, when people are saying good things. On the other hand, it gives pressure because everyone is now expecting a lot from me. They want to see the best of me, so it keeps me moving and I make sure that I do my best every time that I am on the pitch. I should not disappoint the people back home."
On the secrets behind Zambia’s U20 World Cup run. . . "I would say hard work, hard work was one of the main reasons why we started and the commitment that each and every player had, we had a dream as a team of what we wanted to achieve at the World Cup. We would use that as our driving force and most importantly we committed our works to the Lord. We said that we could do everything through God and we managed to do it because God has never failed and he’s not going to today. We did our level best and He did the rest."
On which young talent in the Chipolopolo squad will become the next big star. . . "That’s a tricky question but from my team mates I would really fancy a lot of players, not single-handedly saying one player. Maybe four or five can actually make it into being top Zambian talents. I would say, Patson Daka, Fashion Sakala, Enock Mwepu, Kenneth Kalunga, these are some of the most exciting players that I have worked with. I’ve seen their commitment and how hard they work. I really feel that with the right attitude and with the right people around us, we can achieve great things."
On whether he can break into the senior Zambia side. . . "Yes, I would say that is my next target now. Some of my colleagues are already in the senior team, Patson, Fashion, they are now regular starters so that gives me a drive and the confidence, knowing that my friends are in the team. I can also do it, I can also do the same."
On his big club and ultimate ambition in football. . . "The club that I would like to play for, I have two, is Borussia Dortmund and for Arsenal. I would really like to play in the English Premier League or in the Bundesliga, I love their play and their play is similar to Barcelona. I believe that is my type of football, so for now I have ambitions of reaching the quarter or semi-finals of the Europa League. I want to go all the way."
On where his faith in Jesus comes from. . . "It was in 2012, I remember the day, I was 12 and it was the December. So it was 12, 12, 12. We had gone to Zimbabwe with my academy team and then before the tournament ended we had a church service. The pastor was preaching and I decided to give my life to Christ. After that, things started moving in a way that I did not expect, I would go for trials but bigger teams would enquire about me and say to come and train with us. The way was made for me and that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life, to accept Christ."
On why he’s been given the footballing ability that he has. . . "I believe it’s a talent that God has given me, I really love the sport and enjoy doing what I do. The best that I can do is just to work extra hard every day, that’s the only thing that I can give back. I say thank you to the Lord for giving me such a talent."