Everton arrive to rock star reception in Tanzania
Wild scenes erupted Wednesday morning at the Julius Nyerere International Airport as Everton FC football stars descended in Dar es Salaam to rock star reception from their awestruck East African Stars.
Wayne Rooney, England’s all-time leading goalscorer, stole the limelight as scores of fans clambered for a glimpse of some of the biggest names in the English Premier League (EPL) with the likes of Leighton Baines, Yannick Bolasie, Gareth Barry, Morgan Schneiderlin and teen sensation Ademola Lookman also in town.
Tanzanian authorities and support staff from a gaming firm that is in partnership with Everton rushed the squad away to their hotel in scenes only accorded to political bigwigs ahead of their clash with Kenyan football giants Gor Mahia FC.
The 15-time Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions who arrived a day earlier earned the right to become the first side to play an EPL team when they clinched the inaugural Super Cup last month.
At their hotel, Masai performed cultural dances before the Everton contingent who urged them in clapping and excited smiles. Plenty of locals were allowed to greet their favourite stars before checking into their rooms.
“We received a very warm welcome and It is very interesting for us as the Maasai welcome is not something we see at home. We’ve just come straight off the plane and we are all excited to be here.
“We will train tonight and we are looking forward to the game tomorrow. But it’s mostly about fitness at this point as we’ve only been back just over a week. It will be a good exercise for us and hopefully the local fans will turn out and enjoy it,” Baines said at the hotel.
Baines then led Lookman, Bolasie and Idrissa Gueye to the Uhuru Mchanganyiko Primary School where they took part in exhibition games with disabled kids as part of a series of charity programs organized by Everton and their shirt sponsors.
“It’s a great joy to receive them here today and it’s a show great respect for them to play with the kids. Sports has been part of their school curriculum but today should prove to them they can go on and take it up sports as a career.
“They for sure will never will forget this day,” Anna Mshana, the institution’s Head Teacher told Citizen Digital.
The squad will be taking part in several cultural experiences ahead of training at the National Stadium in the afternoon.
Maarten Stekelenburg, Mateusz Hewelt, Chris Renshaw, Tom Davies, Phil Jagielka, Ashley Williams, Callum Connolly, Jonjoe Kenny, Michael Keane, Muhamed Besic, Leighton Baines, Morgan Schneiderlin, James McCarthy, Davy Klaassen, Gareth Barry, IdrissaGanaGueye, Joe Williams, Kieran Dowell, Kevin Mirallas, Wayne Rooney, Aaron Lennon, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Ademola Lookman, Matthew Pennington, YannickB olasie.
-Matthews Mutai is reporting from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.