Former City U21 player picks up pieces in Italy

HARARE - Italy-based striker Salade Machemba’s ambition growing up in Zimbabwe was to earn big bucks and somewhere along the way enrol for an accounting degree to fulfil that goal
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Well, that was before a five-a-side social match in Manchester landed him onto the radar of the Under-21 side of English Premier Soccer League giants Manchester City.

The football-crazy city in the northwest of England is home to two of the biggest names in sport:  Manchester United and Manchester City football clubs.

It is therefore no surprise that one can never truly distance themselves from the sport.

The former Chemhondoro Primary School student who was studying towards a tertiary qualification at Birmingham University soon found himself penning a three-year contract with The Citizens which came with a hefty pay cheque.

However, his rise was halted by an inconsistent run of form coupled with a fallout with his agent before consequently falling down the pecking order.

The 25-year-old has, however, been slowly resurrecting his career in the reserve side of Italian mid-table campaigners Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio.

“I am really happy to be playing here,” Machemba said.

“It has not been easy because of the language barrier. Sometimes I feel isolated. Even the weather is very different from what I was used to in England. So I think I have struggled.

“But those are the challenges of playing professional football. I have never given up. I am still working hard and hopefully it will pay off.”

Machemba is currently on a three-year contract with Atalanta which expires in April 2019.

Born on July 27, 1991 in Paris, the Machembas named their son Salade owing to their appetite for the dish consisting of a mixture of small pieces of food which is typically served cold.

The name quickly aroused attention when he came back to live in Zimbabwe at the age of two.

“Well I still laugh about it,” Machemba said. “But it’s not a big deal anymore.”

The striker admits he was never into football as a student at Allan Wilson, St John’s College and Species College.

“I started off playing rugby in high school. I did play for Gunners Juniors for a bit in 2008 under Thanks Tengwe. I was doing it just for fun. I never thought I could do this for a living. But life has its surprises,” he said.

“I have been fortunate in that I have had former football greats like Peter Ndlovu to look up to and also assist me with how to cope with life as a professional footballer. I think it can only get better from here.”

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