Zambian Patson Daka shines on all fronts

In the colours of his club Leicester, international Patson Daka became the first Zambian to score a goal in the Premier League. He followed up with the same formation by scoring a quadruple in the Europa League against Spartak Moscow. Enough to consecrate him as one of the best African forwards of the moment.

“When you smile, the whole world smiles with you”. The Frank Sinatra song used by Leicester supporters seems custom-written for its young striker, Patson Daka. The 23-year-old Zambian has just spent a dream week, concluded with an XXL performance in Europa League against Spartak Moscow, Wednesday, October 20.

The previous Saturday, he became the first Zambian international to score a goal in the Premier League. Against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United, the Chipolopolos striker scored his first goal for the Foxes just fifteen minutes after his debut, completing his side’s 4-2 victory.

Starting for the first time with Leicester, the 23-year-old distinguished himself by scoring three goals in… nine minutes! While Leicester led 2-0, he first reduced the score before the rest (2-1, 44’) and then did not raise his foot on the return of the locker room, deceiving again, twice, the Russian goalkeeper Aleksandr Maksimenko (48e, 54e).

A few minutes later, he completed Leicester’s success with a fourth goal. He became the first Foxes player and the first Zambian to score a hat-trick in European competition, according to statistician Optajoe.

“It’s a moving evening for me, feelings mix,” the striker said after the match. “It’s hard to describe how I feel. I’m just glad I helped the team win. Everyone is happy for me, we saw it on the field, they brought me a lot of love. My favorite goal? I would say the first, because it was the one that allowed us to regain confidence in the game.”

On the club’s Twitter account, Leicester allowed himself a little joke: ask his community to elect the man of the match. The proposals? Patson Daka, Patson Daka, Patson Daka… and Patson Daka.

Made in Zambia

Transferred this summer from RB Salzburg to Leicester for the coquettish sum of 30 million euros, according to Transfermarkt, the phenomenon is a pure product of Zambian football but also of the Red Bull empire.

Born in Chingola, northern Zambia, Daka trained at Kafue Celtic. In the summer of 2014, he was sent on loan to Nchanga Rangers, with whom he played his first season as a professional in the Zambia Super League. The following season, he was loaned to Power Dynamos and became the club’s top scorer. He then taps into Red Bull’s eye.

The story between the winged bull brand and the Zambian begins with a loan. He joined FC Liefering, the club of the Red Bull empire that plays in the Austrian second division for a period of six months. In nine appearances and two goals, he convinced the managers to buy him.

At the end of the season, he signed with Red Bull Salzburg. He was initially sent back to Liefering for six months to train before making his first appearances for Salzburg in the second half of the season. He helped the club win the UEFA Youth League.

The beginning of a hell of a track record. He won the Austrian Championship four years in a row, as well as the Austrian Cup three times (2019, 2020 and 2021). He also became the first Zambian to score in the Champions League, on 27 November 2019, against Genk.

Between January 2019 and May 2020, he formed a formidable duo with the Norwegian Erling Haaland, to whom he is often compared. During their entire season together, they scored 55 goals for the Austrian side. The departure of the “Norwegian cyborg” to Borussia Dortmund however, this did not affect Daka’s performance: in the 2020/2021 season, he scored 27 goals in 27 matches with Salzburg and was crowned player of the year in Austria. Enough to motivate Leicester’s interest.

Already a mainstay of Chipolopolos

Patson Daka is part of the Zambian golden generation that won the 2017 Africa Under-20 Nations Cup on home soil. He was even crowned the best player of the competition, after five games as a starter and four goals scored.

In the A team, he made his debut in 2015 when he was only 15 years old. CHAN 2016 in Rwanda was his first major competition, but he had to wait until 2017 to score his first senior goal, in a match against Algeria in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

“You really have to note his name, because he is a very promising player who will make people talk about him. He is a modern forward, who goes fast, who is able to make efforts and differences, because he is dexterous and has a sense of movement,” said former Zambia coach Hervé Renard, RFI, who would have wanted him to come to Lille when he was coaching there

Despite exemplary performances during the qualifying campaign for the CAN-2022 in Cameroon, Patson Daka was not enough to qualify the Chipolopolos. Zambia fail to finish third in their group despite Daka doubles in two crucial matches (3-3 against Algeria, 2-0 win over Zimbabwe).

An absence at the African Cup that could finally benefit Daka. In the absence of Salah, Mané, Aubameyang and other Mahrez, he will have all the time to dazzle the Premier League with his talent. And why not, replace the star striker of Leicester Jamie Vardy, hitherto undaunted in the hearts of the fans of the “Foxes”.

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