MONTREAL — During his public introduction, Victor Wanyama refused to turn around and reveal his No. 2 jersey for photographers. He tapped the Montreal Impact logo on his chest and said: “What matters is this.”
Montreal’s newest Designated Player wants to share the selflessness that served him well at Celtic FC, Southampton and Tottenham with his new teammates. And the 28 year-old wants to bring his passion and fighting spirit to MLS.
“For me it's not about myself, it’s about the team,” Wanyama said. “I want to fight for my team and then we can become stars.”
It was that attitude that drew Impact sporting director Olivier Renard and head coach Thierry Henry to Wanyama as well
“The coach and I want to create a team on the pitch, not individuals, and he insisted on that many times during his press conference,” Renard said. “It's about the team spirit and the pride that he has to wear the colors of his new team.”
The Kenya national team captain had a difficult end at Tottenham, having not started at the North London club since a League Cup defeat to League Two's Colchester United back on Sept. 24. Still, Wanyama said that he kept training and stayed fit, and Renard said he expects Wanyama to be available as soon as his visa goes through..
“I didn’t play for a bit of time but I’ve been training hard and I’m physically fit,” Wanyama said. “For the rest, I’ll leave it to the manager. My job is to work hard and impress him, the rest is for him.”
Luis Binks, who trained with Wanyama at Tottenham, highlighted his teammate’s work ethic and class, and believes the Kenyan’s presence in front of the back line will be a great addition for the Impact.
“Towards the end he wasn’t involved with the starting XI a lot but he was still very professional,” Binks said. “He kept fit and he’s a very good player.”
Wanyama had three separate injury layoffs with Tottenham, but the 28-year-old insists he's been in recent good health.
“That was three years ago and now I’m feeling strong again,” Wanyama said. “I’m looking forward to enjoying the game again.”
Renard doesn't appear particularly worried, but understands a player of Wanyama's pedigree and experience is going to have received some knocks along the way.
“If we all take a scanner right now we’ll all find something,” Renard said. “It’s true that Victor had a few injuries, I had some in my career as well but it didn’t stop me from finishing my career. I continued to play and so will he. Our medical team checked all there is to check and we both are confident.”