By Al Gunn, London

It is every young footballer’s dream to represent their country. For 19-year old Lyson Zulu that dream has come true in a way that he could not have predicted.
 
A week ago, student Lyson Zulu was hoping to secure a debut appearance – on trial for UK amateurs Loughborough. And on Tuesday morning he got the call he was expecting. He was to start for their first team that night. Then, half an hour later, he got a call he had not imagined possible. He was in the Zambia National Squad to play the mighty Black Stars of Ghana in London the next day.
 
The call had been made because FAZ had run into trouble, failing to secure visas for over half their pros. At the last minute, three UK-based Zambians playing student-level football were called up to supplement the squad. “It was an opportunity I could not refuse”, said Lyson as he took time out from work at Multisport, a training camp for teenage kids, to tell Lusaka Times the story.
 
“I got the call around midday on Tuesday, after learning I was playing for Loughborough that night. I played 90 minutes on Tuesday evening for Loughborough then travelled down to meet the Zambia squad in London at midday on Wednesday. I was told I would play about 20 minutes, but because Mayuka and Njobvu were not there at kick-off I started and played the whole game”, explained the student. “I was tired but for your national team it’s something you are happy to do.”
 
Kalingalinga-born Lyson is in the UK on a sports scholarship, part-funded by the Zambian youth academy he started out with, EduSport. He is working towards a degree in Sports Performance at the University of Bath, which he will complete next year. He has represented Team Bath, a football club made up of University students that had reached one of the highest tiers of semi-professional football in the UK before it folded earlier this year. Bath is considered one of the top places for studying sport in the UK.
 
So was Lyson intimidated when he joined up with his famed compatiots before the game? “I had played with my friend Fwayo Tembo, Hichani Himoonde and Given Singulumu at EduSport, so it was not a problem. Hervé Renard also welcomed me to the squad and encouraged me to do my best. He was so professional, I was impressed with his style!” And what of the Black Stars? “They were very professional, confident and they played well.”
 
Lyson led the line for the Zambians on Wednesday. He was up against Francis Dickoh, the strong centre-back from Jacob Mulenga’s FC Utrecht, and Eric Addo who also plays in Holland for Roda JC. Against such an experienced, tough defence, Lyson struggled to make an impression. He explained “I was not playing in my usual position. I am a winger and can play No.10 just off the main striker. Because we had so few players I was asked to play No.9. So I didn’t play my best. I can play a lot better!” Given Singuluma, Zambia’s regular No.9 and CHAN top-scorer, deputised in midfield.
 
The team struggled after an early injury to Nyambe Mulenga, a red-card for Dennis Banda and the late arrival of the Israeli-based duo, who arrived just in time for Ghana’s fourth and final goal just before half-time. “I thought we defended well in the second half”, argued Zulu. “Hervé was calm and got us together at half-time. We came out more compact and having Njobvu in midfield for the second half helped us too.” 10-man Zambia held Ghana off in the second period, preventing a seriously embarrassing scoreline, which had seemed possible. He was kinder on his team-mates than some fans have been, saying that overall they did well. He was not surprised to learn that Fwayo’s performance had earned plaudits; “To be fair to him, he did put in a very good game.”
 
So what’s in the future for this young Chipolopolo boy? Does he see himself playing for his country again? “I hope so. I thought I could make it in about two years time and I still think that is possible. For now I am working towards my education to get a good degree and then a good job. I still hope to play football. I may have a sports scholarship in the USA soon so I will continue to learn and play.”
 
Whether Lyson Zulu gets to pull on the Zambian jersey again remains to be seen. However, it seems that whatever happen, his ambition and hard-work will lead to a successful career in sport. From captaining the EduSport team in Kalingalinga through to leading sports education projects in the UK, Lyson seems to have found a working answer to the question of whether to focus on his football or his education. He does both.
 
Which reminds us both that this newly annointed international footballer has to get back to teaching the kids at Multisport. “They have been asking me so many questions!”, he boasts. I doubt that I have grilled him half as hard as his protégés.
 
As Lyson prepares to groom a new generation of sports men and women, he insists on sending a message to the Chipolopolo fans who were at London’s Brisbane Road stadium on Wednesday. “Thank you so much to them, their support kept us going. We could hear them singing, ‘Zambia, Zambia’ which inspired us to make it through the second half without conceeding a goal.”

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Well done mwanaa,you showed the spirit of being a patriot to your nation in time of need,even if we lost you did your part.FAZ is not organized its so funny that when they run into trouble in finding their players in UK,they had to look around and find any Zambian student around to fill the position,they should not only use like this but recognize you to be a player who can be always be available for national duty

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  2. I would encourage Lyson to concentrate more on his academic studies and get himself some Sports credentials while he is London. Counting on our national team these days is like hugging a bubble.

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  3. ba number 3 you want to exploit the kid he hasnt event started making money? dont start taking him to pubs and brothels let him concentrate.

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  4. Hello Brother JACK MICHEALSON #4, I cannot exploit the young man as intend to ever live in Zambia again.
    It would actually be an advantage for him to know more people in this country.
    And who tells you that he will even make money? Collins Mbesuma was here and I am sure you know what happened to which the rest is history. What of Kalu and group of the 1980s?
    So my brother, never jump to conclusions.

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  5. What an ass of a country. FAZ didnt know they needed Visas for their players untill the last minute? Shame on these mazafakas. You come to UK and scrounge around for any zambian who can kick a ball against Ghana? What a joke. My apologies i forgot it’s zambian tradition NEVER to learn lesson from anything. Namailo fikaisolver.

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  6. Ba faz if you need any players next time just send me an email on [email protected] would be proud to have a kick around and earn a cap for my country. Thanx i know i wont be disappointed.

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  7. Thanks alot Lyson, its good to hear that so many born and bred in Kalingalinga are studying outside outside Zed.Keep it up boy.I will tell your mum that i read about you when i go back to Zed next month.

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  8. Solid work kid! I was there at Brisbane good to hear a fellow from Kalingalinga doing well in the UK. I was also born and bred in in Buchi Kitwe but now I am running my own department in a UK company. Dont let anyone put you down because for any reason. kudos to you Lyson!

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  9. YOU KNOW WAT!!! MA ??? IT”S VERY MUCH INSPIRING AND INTERESTING TO HEAR I WOULD LOVE TO BE LIKE U ONE DAY COZY AS THE MATTER OF FACT YOU INSPIRE ME ALLOT. AND AS YOU SAID IT IT”S A DREAM FOR EVERY PLAYER AT ONE DAY TO PLAY FOR HIS COUNTRY AND THAT’S MY DREAM I PRAY TO GOD THAT MY DREAM Z MAY COME TRUE.

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