By Sports Reporter
UK-based Zimbabwe international Tendayi Darikwa has expressed his joy at finally fulfilling his dream of featuring for competitive game warriors after playing a key role in the back of the 2019 African Champions Championships against Congo last month.
In his first in-depth interview since his international debut, Darikwa revealed his pleasure at featuring the 2-1 victory away and a 1-1 draw at home against Congo which took Zimbabwe closer to the qualifications of the African Cup of Nations.
"To be honest, when I was young and growing up, with the system I had in Chesterfield, I never thought I would play at that level, where I am now," Dreikwa said in an interview with Nottingham Post.
"As soon as the matter came up in Zimbabwe, I wanted to jump at the opportunity, and I am very proud of my education and my heritage, playing in Zimbabwe has always been something I wanted when I found the opportunity.
"This is my father from Zimbabwe and I am entitled to play for them since the birth, and I looked to play them a few years ago, and the passport status was difficult, so it did not materialize as quickly as I would like.
"Over the years, because of the way the English worked and because of the way the country was, it was not the most professional, but they managed to sort things out and I am very pleased with the way he disappeared."
Darikwa also responded to the fighters to sign the qualification for the Continental final when they face Liberia on Sunday afternoon needed only to qualify for the tournament – which will start in June, in Cameroon.
Former defender Burnley is not available for the crucial meeting due to the suspension.
"I managed to collect the order in each of the two games I played, so I'm suspended …" said Dreikwa. "It was disappointing, but I have confidence in the players who will play in Liberia.
"We need a point to qualify and I hope we can do the job.
"The country has gone through a difficult period in recent years, but now there is a new regime and a new government, I hope things can begin to pick up and return to how they were many years ago.
"It was good to go out there, it was a special honor for me to play in my father's country, I had a lot of family there, too, it was good to play in front of them because many of them were never here to see me play. I like this front.
He added: "More than that, we have two good results, I was there before to visit, to see them all, but it was the first time they could see me play in a proper game, we got two good results, and hopefully they will see me play more Games as well. "
Darikwa could be the first of several English-based players to take the call to play in Zimbabwe in the months and years to come, with much of the group currently based in South Africa football, along with a handful in Belgium.
"There are a few players in England who are going through the same process, with their passports, as I had to complete, it could be a long process," Dreikwa said.
"There are some players who play in Belgium, but the main core of the department to play in South Africa is not a bad league there.
"The moment I knew I was going to play, I did some research, there are a few good players there and hope to help us on the international stage."
Dreikwa also revealed that he shares his first name with his father and hopes that he will take some pride in seeing his son play for his nation and home.
"My dad was not a footballer, he's trying to tell me he makes bits back a day, but I'm not sure he was great," Dreikwa said. "It was a proud moment for me, but also for my family and I hope it will continue.
"His name is Timothy Tandai, so I'm named after him – my first name is his middle name – it was a proud moment for me and I think my father will be proud of me too, so that's a good thing.
"I hope we can qualify now, and I would get to play in a big tournament.This will be massive for me, this is a big tournament and a lot of great players over the years have played in this tournament and won it.
"It would be great to play it myself, I hope we can book our place in the final, it will be a great experience."
Zimbabwe won the African Cup of Nations in 2017 for the first time since 2006, but came out in the group stages after taking only one point from a 2-2 draw with Algeria.