Mbawana Samatta thrilled to be Tanzanian trailblazer

Tanzania’s Mbwana Samatta has welcomed the challenge of trying to help Aston Villa stay in the Premier League

Mbwana Samatta says he is thrilled to have fulfilled the wishes of Tanzanian football fans to see one of their own playing in the English Premier League.

Samatta made history on Saturday by not only being the first Tanzanian to play in the Premier League but also the first to score a goal.

The 27-year-old headed home on Saturday as Aston Villa lost 2-1 to Bournemouth.

“It makes me feel great because back in Tanzania they were always looking for someone to play in the premier league,” he told BBC Sport.

“As you can see they support me very well. It was a good moment (making my debut).

“It was a dream and it came true, it’s nice to be in the premier league and off course everybody in Tanzania are happy with that,” added.

He made his debut for Villa in their dramatic win over Leicester City in the second leg of the Carabao League Cup semi-final last week.

His appearance was greeted with huge cheers from fans back in Tanzania as hundreds gathered to watch him in bars and big screens.

“There were videos the other day I played the first game in the Carabao Cup against Leicester City they were showing the love and the support,” he added.

“I think it’s very important for a player to know that you have a lot of people supporting you.”

Settling in

Samatta also said he has been made to feel very welcome at Aston Villa and the club’s fans have been “incredible, they made it really special, I really feel welcome here. I feel I am in the right place.”

The Tanzanian national team captain said he has settled in very well among his new teammates’ thanks largely to the African players in the team.

Villa’s squad includes Zimbabwe international Marvelous Nakamba as well as Egyptian duo Ahmed Elmohamady and Trezeguet.

“They helped me a lot to settle in and you feel like you can perform here, you can play. They were so good to me since I joined the team and they encourage me a lot to be better,” said Samatta.

He said he is unfazed by the challenge that comes with playing in the Premier League and the relegation battle that Aston Villa faces.

“We will try to win a lot of points, it’s our challenge right now and we have to do it.

“It’s a tough competition, they are right when they say it’s the number one competition in the world, it’s tough. It’s not the same as Belgium.

“Here you have to be ready physically, mentally and you have to be ready to perform every weekend. Every game is a tough game, every opponent is not easy to win.”

Samatta moved to Villa, who are just one point above the relegation zone, last month on a four-and-half-year deal.

He scored 10 goals for Genk in all competitions this season including a goal at Anfield against Liverpool in the Champions League.