By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE international midfielder Marvelous Nakamba thanked both the Luton and Aston Villa supporters for the massive standing ovation he received at Villa Park last weekend.
The popular 29-year-old, who is earmarked to be named the new Zimbabwe national team captain, made an emotional return to Aston Villa, where he spent four years prior to his move to Luton Town.
Despite being allowed to join Luton in initially on a loan deal for the second half of last season before making his move permanent at the start of this season, Nakamba was very popular with Aston Villa fans.
The Hwange-born star, who is also revered by the Luton fans, got a warm reception when read out by the PA announcer ahead of kick-off.
When he was replaced with 15 to go and his team already trailing 2-0, the majority of the 41,785 inside Villa Park, rose to give the Zimbabwean a rousing round of applause.
Speaking about the ovation, he said: “Of course, it was a good feeling.
“I’m someone who’s closer to people, more close to everyone that is around me helping each other, so of course it was a good feeling from both fans to get that reception.
“It keeps me going to still stay grounded and still stay humble.
“It’s somewhere I’d been for a long time, it was a little bit strange (going back), but it’s football, it’s part of the journey.
“I’m very grateful for what they did for me, grateful for the club, the fans, everyone, my former team-mates there, some I still speak to them now regularly, so it was a good time.”
Despite leaving Villa ahead of this season, it was clear that the club still has a firm place in Nakamba’s heart, as he continued: “It was a big game for me, going back.
“In England, they were the first club that gave me the chance to play in the Premier League, so it was a good time to go back there and the reception I received also.
“I saw some friends there, and the fans, the players, everyone around the club.
“It was a good moment for me, but a pity we didn’t get the result that we wanted as a club for Luton.”
Nakamba joined Aston Villa from Belgian Pro League outfit Club Brugge for a fee of £11m in August 2019.
He went on to play 68 times in all competitions for the Villains as he was a firm crowd favourite, winning the club’s Player of the Month award in November 2021 when Steven Gerrard was in charge.
However, he was then sidelined by a knee injury which kept him out for a few months and also saw him miss Zimbabwe’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament in January 2022, returning to feature in the final games of the season.
Nakamba then didn’t play for Villa in the 2022-23 campaign, as once Gerrard was sacked and four-time Europa League winner Unai Emery replaced him, he was allowed to leave on loan, heading to Kenilworth Road in January.
He played a huge role in Luton Town’s promotion to the Premier League with his stand-out performances seeing Luton enjoy play-off success by beating Coventry City on penalties at Wembley in May, netting in the nerve-wracking shoot-out himself.