Holding a Tottenham scarf above his head and beaming with pride at having joined his new club, it can be easy to forget just how far Victor Wanyama has come. And given he made his first appearance for the club in a 0-3 win over Nottingham Forest last week, there’s no limit to how far he’ll go.
This is a player who spent his childhood in Kenya walking 10 kilometres for a football game, playing barefoot in the street until he finally won a pair of boots.
The Premier League was as far away as you can imagine, with matches only shown at cinemas and the closest thing to the players were posters on bedrooms walls.
And yet, Wanyama is now in the same position as those footballers he watched in his childhood.
‘They say it doesn’t matter where you come from, only where you are going to. But if you come from Africa, this is not true,’ says Wanyama.
‘You see Kenya is my home, it is where my life began. I come from a place called Muthurwa, in Eastlands.
‘You have to be a lion coming from that humble background. If you work hard then dreams, they do come true and it has happened so I don’t fear anything.’
‘I was waking up every morning and taking my ball. I walked 10 kilometres to go and play with the other children.
‘We were playing barefoot and we were sometimes getting injured. We hurt our toes and blood came out, but we still continued.
‘I wanted to do anything to make it, to have a better life. This was just a dream.’
However that childhood fantasy of playing in the Premier League is now very much a reality for Wanyama, who after three years with Southampton has just made the move to Tottenham in a deal worth GBP£11m.
Champions League nights now await the midfielder at White Hart Lane, but they were a long way away from reality for the Kenyan during his childhood.
Like many of his friends, he dreamed of the Premier League and European glory but back then the only glimpse he got of it was by trips to the cinema with his family.
Sat watching his idols, the young midfielder set his sights on doing something no Kenyan had ever done – playing in the Premier League.
The Kenyan quickly climbed the ladder to the top.
‘We used to go with my brothers and dad to the cinema to go and watch the Barclays Premiership,’ says Wanyama.
‘If I had the money to pay, I could pay and then go and watch it. If I didn’t have the money, sometimes I sneaked in.
‘We used to watch some great players like Roy Keane and Paul Scholes. I didn’t know one day I would be here, I was just happy.’
Not content with watching his favourite players on the big screen, Wanyama spent hours playing the game he loved too.
When Wanyama finally got his hands on some boots it was down to his talent, as his skills at a local tournament saw him rewarded with his very own pair.
And with the soles of his feet now covered the Kenyan quickly climbed the ladder to the top of the footballing world.
‘When I was 10 I won a pair of boots. It was hard to get used to the boots,’ says Wanyama.
‘I had to adjust and try to use them, but it wasn’t easy. Five years later I got a call up from the national team and I was only 15 years old.’
Wanyama is ready to take his career to the next level.
‘Not even one year later I was in Europe. In a short time I played in Belgium, Scotland – I even played in the Champions League.
‘I always want to be the best and I always want to keep going. For dreamers, life is a way of getting better.’
Now Wanyama is ready to take his career to the next level as he begins life at his new club, Tottenham.
For the 25-year-old the move away from Southampton to White Hart Lane felt like the right one. With it comes the opportunity to showcase his talents in the Champions League.
And after watching his brother, McDonald Mariga, win the biggest prize in club football with Inter Milan in 2010, Wanyama has the desire to follow in his sibling’s footsteps.
‘The Champions League is a big stage – it’s where every player dreams of playing. It’s all about the big teams of Europe meeting each other and they’re just great nights,’ he says.
‘Watching my brother winning the Champions League was really good. That was always in my head, that one day I want to achieve what he has achieved.
That’s my target, to win the Premier League.
‘Here at Spurs, playing against teams like Barca and Real Madrid – it’s only going to make us better and if you brush shoulders with the world’s best players then nothing is impossible.
‘I think we will have some great nights for the fans and the players, and hopefully we can go far in the competition.
‘Nothing is impossible if you work hard. If we can achieve winning the Premier League then that would be my dream. That’s my target, to win the Premier League or any trophy with the club.’