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Kenyans hail Wanyama after Southampton move

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Victor Wanyama fends off Barcelona's Pedro Rodriguez in a Champions League game in Glasgow last November. Kenyans on Friday hailed national football team skipper Victor Wanyama after his move from Scottish champions Celtic to Southampton in the English Premier League.AFP/File

Kenyans on Friday hailed national football team skipper Victor Wanyama after his move from Scottish champions Celtic to Southampton in the English Premier League.

The 22-year-old midfielder on Thursday agreed a four-year deal worth a reported club record ??12.5 million ($18.9 million) to become the first Kenyan to feature in English football's top flight.

The Kenyan football federation was the first to congratulate the player saying Wanyama, who took over the captain's armband from Dennis Oliech in June, had continued to be "Kenya's football ambassador due to his exploits on the pitch".

"It is through his sportsmanship and leadership qualities that led to the federation appointing him as the Harambee Stars captain," said FKF chairman Sam Nyamweya in a statement.

"He's always honoured his call-up to the national team and every Kenyan should be proud of his move."

Wanyama's father, Noah, himself a former international winger, said he was proud that his son had set a precedent for other aspiring Kenyan footballers to play in Europe.

"Victor, (his brother, Parma midfielder McDonald) Mariga (Wanyama) and Oliech (of French Ligue 1 side Ajaccio) have opened the way for other Kenyan youth to realise that it was possible to play in the top-flight European football", he said.

Wanyama, a former youth player, who also attracted interest from big English giants clubs including Manchester United, Arsenal and newly-promoted Cardiff FC joined Celtic in July 2011 from Belgian first division club Germinal Beerschoot for a modest sum of $900,000.