Former Man City target McDonald Mariga could have been a success in England, says brother Victor Wanyama
Victor Wanyama believes his brother McDonald Mariga could have been a big hit in English football if he'd secured a move to the Premier League earlier in his career.
Despite winning the Champions League in 2010 with Internazionale, 30-year-old Mariga has failed to realise his potential, struggling with a series of debilitating injuries and never again reaching the heights he achieved in Lombardy.
Once upon a time he appeared primed to move to the Premier League, with both Manchester City in January 2010 and Harry Redknapp's Portsmouth previously poised to sign the central midfielder and elder brother of Tottenham Hotspur's Wanyama, only for Mariga's work permit to be denied.
"I think he could have been a success [in England]," Wanyama told KweséESPN at an event to promote Leagoo's unveiling as Spurs' official mobile phone partner. "He's a fighter and he likes to learn as well.
"Unfortunately at that time, our [FIFA World] ranking was really bad and he couldn't get the work permit," he added. "He's still had a great career of course. He's been able to win the Champions League with Inter, so he's done well."
Mariga was the first Kenyan to play in the Champions League when he made his bow in the competition in 2010, playing three times as Jose Mourinho's unfancied Inter won their third European Cup in Madrid, including an appearance in the memorable semi final against Barcelona.
"It's unbelievable to have someone in the family who's won the Champions League medal," Wanyama added.
However, Mariga struggled to establish himself at the Giuseppe Meazza, and moved back to Parma permanently in 2014 after a loan spell with Real Sociedad.
He'd previously spent two and a half seasons in the northern city after beginning his career in Sweden, but moved onto Serie B Latina in January 2016 after being released by Parma following their bankruptcy.
Injuries again played their part in at the Stadio Domenico Francioni, while Latina's financial troubles led to the Kenya international going unpaid.
"For me it's not even the issue of he being unpaid," Wanyama continued, "but it was hard to see him struggle with injuries.
"That setback that he had was for me a bit painful, but he's a fighter. He always wants to get back, he didn't want to give up. I like his character.
"He told me 'you never give up', he fought back, now he's getting back again and I'm happy for him."
Mariga left Latina last season before returning to Spain with Real Oviedo, signing a one-year deal with the second-tier side.
"He's signed for a club in Spain and I'm looking forward to seeing him do well again," Wanyama added. "I think [Real Oviedo] is the right move for him.
"He wants to get back again and that's a good place for him. He's been [to Spain] before -- with Real Sociedad -- so he's familiar with the place, and I think for him, he's at home."
While the last few years of Mariga's career have been a frustrating quest to assert himself on matches as he once threatened to do on a regular basis, the younger Wanyama has gone from strength to strength.
The 26-year-old made his Champions League debut in 2012 after moving to Celtic from Beerschot A.C., and has subsequently established himself as one of the Premier League's most effective central midfielders, first with Southampton and latterly with Spurs.
While Mariga attempts to reconstruct his career in Asturias, it's Big Vic who's looking to write another chapter in his UCL career and...hopefully...to follow in the footsteps of his big brother.
"He motivates me to [win the Champions League] with Tottenham," Wanyama concluded. "He's always telling me [to take it] game-by-game. So hopefully we can do that and be there."
Ed Dove is the Soccer Editor for KweséESPN. Follow him on Twitter @EddyDove.