Unveiling Newcastle United’s Gael Bigirimana

dosage geneva; font-size: small;”>Lately, recipe the teenager’s true nationality has become skeptical with FUFA Communications boss Rogers Mulindwa at one time revealing on how he had been in contact with the Burundian FA as regards Gael’s international affiliation.

Kampala tales are, the midfielder was nurtured by renowned youth coach Eddy Butindo in Kampala Kids League (KKL) and Uganda Youth Soccer Academy (UYSA) alongside the likes of Saddam Juma, Jaja Walusimbi, and Ivan Bwete on the grassless Nsambya pitch among others before he immigrated to the UK.

However, another tale states that Bigirimana was only 11 when he knocked on the door of Coventry City’s youth academy, confidently asking for a trial. He was told politely that he would have to be spotted by a scout while playing for a local team, but as he sprinted back home, he was called back by a member of staff. “They said it was because they saw how fast I could run, but truth be told, I was just jogging,” recalled the 19-year-old midfielder with a smile.

Following a successful trial and numerous convincing performances in various age categories, the Burundian turned professional with the second-tier Sky Blues, despite having not yet turned 17. The prodigious talent would remain in the West Midlands for just one season, during which he earned the division’s Apprentice of the Year award, and in doing so attracted the interest of Newcastle United.


Bigirimana continued to impress at St James’ Park, opening his account for his new club in December with a superb left-foot strike versus Wigan. “He shouldn’t have been playing in this team. He should have been playing in our youth team, but our situation was such that he was given a chance,” said Newcastle manager Alan Pardew after the aforementioned goal.

“And as you saw, it’s a chance he’s grabbed with both hands. He went one step further, in fact, scoring a fantastic goal that he’ll remember all his life. He has an exciting future ahead of him,” Pardew added.

The big-time dream gradually became a reality for the budding footballer as, after building a promising reputation in Uganda and at Coventry, he has now settled in at Tynneside earning 13 appearances so far but still uncapped at national level.

In February 2011, Bigirimana was part of a Democratic Republic of Congo U-18 team that played a friendly in England against the junior side of Tottenham Hotspur.

In April 2012, Bigirimana announced that he would like to play for Rwanda at international level. He was later considered by Rwanda for the 2013 African Youth Championship qualification stage. In October, Bigirimana stated that he had rejected an international call-up from Burundi due to political instability in the country.

He is also eligible to represent Uganda or even England as he meets the criteria of the Home Nations agreement that ruling that requires a player to demonstrate a “clear connection” to any country they wish to represent.

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