HARARE - It was a refreshing sight to see Zimbabwean-born Everton defender Brendan Galloway put in a wonderful display against newly-promoted Watford at Goodison Park at the weekend.
Over the past few years, Zimbabwean football has fallen in an abyss of debt and maladministration which resulted in the Warriors’ expulsion from the 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifiers for failing to pay former coach Valinhos.
But here was Galloway, a 19-year-old fullback born in Harare, holding his own in the English Premiership to show Zimbabwe has got talent.
With the Toffees’ first choice left back Leighton Baines out with an ankle injury, Roberto Martinez preferred to start with Galloway in his side’s 2015-16 season opening match which ended in a 2-2 draw.
Galloway, who moved to England with his family when he was six, made his debut for the Merseyside club in a 2-1 away win against West Ham in May 2015 and Saturday’s match was his second appearance in the Everton first team.
Martinez had special praise for Galloway after his impressive showing against Watford and believes the defender, who can also play at centre half, can be an ideal replacement for England international Baines.
The Toffees are in the dark over when Baines, who has 30 caps for the Three Lions, will be back in action and are backing Galloway to fill the void.
“Brendan Galloway is a young man but when he plays, he is an out-and-out defender. He has been very impressive and is someone who can play in that position for us for a long time,” Martinez told the Everton website.
Galloway together with youth graduates Tyias Browning and Matthew Pennington have all been tipped to be a success in the Toffees first team by club captain Phil Jagielka.
“I’ve been impressed with them. It is a position that we are probably a little bit light on as far as experience goes but we are more than happy with the standard of the lads coming through,” Jagielka said.
With Chelsea pressing for Everton central defender John Stones’ signature, this could open up more opportunities for Galloway in the first team.
“Looking to the right of me, the central defenders that I get to play with are quite a lot younger than me!” said Jagielka.
“But it is a good challenge for me and I try to give all of them as much information as I can on and off the pitch. The young lads try and listen as much as they can and hopefully they will have a good future ahead of them.”
But with the chaos in Zimbabwean football at the moment, there is little prospect Galloway will opt to play for his country of birth.
Galloway has represented England at Under-17, Under-18 and Under-19 level and is regarded as a bright prospect for both club and country.
Under current Fifa rules, the young defender can still change to represent Zimbabwe since he has not played for England at senior level yet.
The defender, born Brendan Joel Zibusiso Galloway, became League One club Milton Keynes Dons’s youngest ever first-team player in November 2011 when he made his debut against Nantwich Town aged just 15.
After impressing for MK Dons, Everton signed Galloway for an undisclosed fee on a five-year contract in August 2014.
After arriving at Merseyside, the Zimbabwean-born defender has steadily rose in the Everton ranks and was last season named the club’s Under-21s Player of the Season.
Now that he has got Martinez’s attention, the defender is likely to be given an extended run in the Toffees first team.
And with the way he has performed when called upon, Galloway will not be easy to ignore and will have an opportunity just like Wayne Rooney, Jack Rodwell and Rose Barkley, who all rose to prominence after launching their careers with the Merseyside club.