Rwanda: Ashraf Karekezi – the Rwandan Kid Carrying a Big Football Name

In African football circles, the surname “Karekezi” is huge due to the exploits of former Amavubi and APR skipper Olivier Karekezi.

The nimble footed forward was known as a ruthless finisher who tormented defenders across the length and breadth of Africa in the 2000’s.

At his peak, Karekezi was one of the feared strikers on the continent. He wrote his name in the letters of gold when he helped Rwanda qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) for the historic first and only time in 2004.

At club level, he also masterminded APR Cup Winners Cup semi-finals berth in 2003 and also had an illustrious career in Sweden with Helsingborg IF.

Nine years after Olivier Karekezi retired from football, a Rwandan youngster has popped up in the Belgian 3de National League bearing the name “Ashraf Karekezi”.

In football circles, there have been players with identical surnames. Some of them were named by their parents after others whereas others were just coincidental.

Columbian striker Radamel Falcao was named by his parents after former Brazilian star Paulo Roberto Falcao, Zinedine Zidane also named his son Enzo after Uruguayan legend Enzo Francescoli whereas Ronaldo Nazario and Cristiano Ronaldo were coincidental.

In any case, huge tasks were on players like Falcao, Ronaldo and others to live up to the name and they did just that.

Certainly, many, particularly those who watched Olivier Karekezi play, will be looking forward to see if Ashraf Karekezi will live up to the name.

Karekezi has started brightly with Belgian lower tier side FC Symphorinois where he is the engine of the team. He operates as a central midfielder but also has the knack of scoring goals.

The 20-year-old talent, born to Rwandan parents in Belgium, is undoubtedly a player to look out for in the next few years as he continues to climb the football ladder.

But one sure thing is, he possesses a big football name and that must be a good challenge to inspire him reach the apex of world football.

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