Tawanda Maswanhise

Maswanhise: Sporting Heritage

Having spent a decade at Leicester City, youngster Tawanda Maswanhise has undoubtedly seen the Football Club grow and develop just as swiftly as he has.
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The 18-year-old attacking midfielder comes from a sporting family. His father, Jeffrey Maswanhise, was a top Zimbabwean sprinter, while his older brother and mother also had an interest in the discipline.

His father’s popularity in Zimbabwe has seen many of the nation’s fans watch on over the last week as Tawanda joined Brendan Rodgers’ outfit on their pre-season training camp in Surrey.

After Friday’s final session, the City starlet – known as JT by his team-mates – spared some of his downtime to talk through his experiences as a Fox to date.

“I joined when I was seven or eight years-old,” he explained. “I’ve been here for 10 years now, and when I was younger, I knew that there would be good opportunities for me here, and I’ve been up through all of the age groups.

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Tawanda Maswanhise

Tawanda Maswanhise in action against Wycombe Wanderers at Adams Park in pre-season.

“I was born in Zimbabwe as well, but I came to England when I was two years-old. I’m getting quite a lot of love over there because my dad obviously used to be a former sprinter for Zimbabwe and obviously he’s got a lot of friends and family and fans over there. They are showing a lot of love.

“I always wanted to be a footballer. My mum was into athletics as well because that’s how they met. I’ve just watched my dad all the years, so I was thinking I want to be like that someday.

“It was impressive, I was thinking one day I could be like him as well. Even my brother, he’s 25 now, he used to be a sprinter as well, and enjoyed football as well.”

Such were his performances for the Club’s Under-18s in 2020/21, Maswanhise trained with the first team and was named in a Premier League squad for the first time ahead of City’s clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The love and all the togetherness inside the changing room was quite big in there so I felt confident and I was ready to come on.

Tawanda Maswanhise LCFC.com

If the occasion wasn’t big enough already, he watched fellow Academy star Luke Thomas score his first Premier League goal for the Club en route to their first away win over the Red Devils since 1998.

Reflecting on his inclusion in the matchday squad, Tawanda said: “I felt confident when I got told the news the night before that I was in the squad and I didn’t really feel any nerves until I was on the bench.

“It was a good experience inside the changing room. The love and all the togetherness inside the changing room was quite big in there so I felt confident and I was ready to come on.

“We stayed overnight in Manchester, Salford I think it was, and I felt relaxed, thinking about what if I do come on. I was just thinking about different scenarios, if I do come on or if I don’t, and it was quite good actually.

“In that week or so in the lead up to that, I was training with the first team. It’s been tough but I’m managing, I’m getting better and I’m improving day by day, so as long as I’m improving day by day, I can show the coaches what I’m doing.

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Tawanda Maswanhise

Maswanhise has trained with the squad all week on their Surrey training camp.

“The past few games I’ve played, I’ve just had little conversations with Brendan about my positioning of where I play. I’m an attacking midfielder so he’s just telling me improvements and successful things I’ve done out of possession, so it’s been really helpful.”

A week away with the first team in Surrey would have no doubt helped him to gather further information to improve his game, as he trains and plays alongside some of the Club’s biggest stars.

He played the opening 45 minutes against Burton Albion, and then impressed during the first half versus Wycombe Wanderers before being named as a substitute in the 3-3 draw with Queens Park Rangers

“It’s been a lot of games and a lot of training sessions,” he said. “I’ve started both of the games now (pre-QPR) and Brendan has told me make sure you express yourself in the games before you go out.

“I feel like there’s improvements here, it’s been good, I just need to keep going and we’ll see where it takes me. I’m learning. I heard about [Patson] Daka’s goalscoring form last season so when it came to the Burton game, I was thinking: ‘I’ve got someone next to me or someone in front of me that can score, so my job is to assist them or get close to them’.”

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