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Thirteen-year-old Trey Nyoni (middle) pictured in December 2020 with his father Joseph Nyoni (left) and dad's friend Kudakwashe Kanhutu at an Under-7 match between Leicester City and Luton Town in the UK. Inset: A young Trey at home in 2011, showing his adoration for superstar Lionel Messi.


Joze a guy from Mbare – meet Trey Nyoni’s hype dad and number one fan



JOSEPH Nyoni creates a vibe wherever he goes, whoever he is with. He is a talker, an entertainer, and – more than anything else – an unshakeable optimist. 


This is how his old friends back home in Mbare remember him. It is also how he is known to the many new friends he has made in Luton, Leicester and now Liverpool – the three “Ls” in England that have been both his workstation and playground since he left the hustle and bustle of Harare’s oldest township two decades ago.

To those who know him well, Joseph’s silence has been rather conspicuous since his 16-year-old son Trey Nyoni grabbed global headlines and became the talk of the town in Zimbabwe following his record-breaking FA Cup appearance for Liverpool last week.

The Joseph they know – who used to tell everyone who cared to listen that his little Trey was a diamond in the making – wouldn’t have been able to keep calm and hide his joy.  

That Joseph would have probably also quickly corrected erroneous reports in the Zimbabwean press that young Trey’s father is a certain Mjumbeki Nyoni, who is said to have played club football in the Southern African country in the mid-80s. 

For now, the real father of the Liverpool wonder-kid is sitting back at home in North West England, just soaking up all the attention directed towards his history-making son. 

Still in his early to mid-40s, perhaps being the father of a teenage prospect in the best football league in the world has tamed Joseph’s youthful enthusiasm a little bit, mindful now of his new status.

A Luton resident and old connection of Nyoni from Zimbabwe, who only identifies as Mike, however doesn’t know of any dull moment with his pal Joseph.

“Joze lived in Luton when he first came to the UK, he was a whole vibe from day one,” Mike tells The NewsHawks from the UK.

“Ever since his boy started kicking a ball around, Joze has always hyped Trey at every opportunity.  He just wouldn’t stop. He would be like ‘guys, mupfanha uyu (this kid) is going to be something else, mark my words. He is going to play in the Premier League’. Joze is seldom quiet, and I mean it in good way. Everybody loves to spend time with him. Slightly misunderstood, yes, but he’s such a hilarious guy. By the time you separate, your ribs are almost cracking from laughter.”

From Luton, Joseph and his wife moved to Leicester, where their son was accepted into the youth system of Leicester City Football Club. The family now lives in Liverpool after their son was signed by the Reds in September 2023, following the immensely gifted attacking midfielder’s huge impression with Leicester City’s youth teams.

UK-born Trey last week became the youngest player to feature in the FA Cup for Liverpool, in a 3-0 win over Southampton, few days after he was an unused substitute in the Merseysiders’ Carabao Cup final victory against Chelsea.

For Mike, seeing his good friend’s son make this momentous step onto the professional scene brings memories of Joseph’s bold prediction flooding back.

“I haven’t seen or spoken to Joze for some time now, but I know he is a very proud man right now,” remarks Mike. “If there is a father who deserves to see the fruition of a dream for his child, it is this guy. He had, or should I say it in the present tense, he has a big dream for his boy. I think it stems from his Mbare upbringing, the ghetto life. Joze was just a guy from Mbare when he came over here. Guys of his generation from the high-density suburbs carried big dreams when they left Zimbabwe.

“They wanted to change their lives and the lives of their families in a big way. Joze is a football fan, he was extremely good at it himself growing up, a naturally gifted player. But by the time he came to the UK, football was now just a hobby. He had to work. He has however lived the football dream through his son, since Trey was born. He is Trey’s biggest role model and number one fan. I remember when Trey was little, he used to accompany his dad to our Zimbabwean social football matches. So Trey grew up watching his old man play alongside the likes of other Zim guys here like Bheki Mlotshwa, Morgan Nkatazo, Liberty Masunda, Pope Moyo, Obey Murefu. Good old Joseph: he would be the most vocal of them all! But he knew, we all knew, he was done as a footballer. Yet he was a big dreamer, and his big dream was his son becoming a top professional footballer.”

Joseph’s sense of optimism for his son, says Mike, also reflects in his relationships with his friends.

“This is just who he is, really,” Mike adds. “Joze is just a good-natured, genuine guy who truly cares about others, especially people from home in Zimbabwe. He’s a fun-loving and outgoing guy, a relatable person. He sees the good in everybody, whether you’re an old friend or a guy he has just met for the first time. He hypes you up as if you’re the best in the world at what you do. When he talks to you, or talks about you, you won’t believe you’re the same person being spoken about (…laughs). To be honest, if it was a different person speaking, you’d definitely feel a bit uncomfortable being flattered like that. But there is an aura about Joze that makes you relax and kind of feel like ‘actually, I think he is right, you know!’ That’s Joze for you.”

People of Joseph Nyoni’s character wear their heart on the sleeve and come to think of it, he is a big Liverpool fan. As a young boy in Zimbabwe, he fell in love with the six-time European champions when the mere thought of siring a Liverpool player would have been something alien.   

Nyoni loves winners so in his Leicester days, he keenly supported Leicester Tigers, the Premiership Rugby club that has amassed 21 major titles in its history.

Probably because of the Mbare connection, Joseph is also a great admirer of the Zimbabwean-British heavyweight boxer Derek Chisora, who like him has roots in the tough Harare neighbourhood where everyday life is about grit and persistence.

But football is the one that runs deep in the family. Kuda Zinhu, Joseph Nyoni’s cousin, used to be a gifted schoolboy footballer back home in Zimbabwe, good enough that the whole school thought he would be one of the best talents to ever come out of the country.

Zinhu, who also lives in England, had significant influence on his nephew when little Trey used to play backyard football at home.

Years ago at Churchill Boys High School in Harare, Zinhu played alongside some household names in Zimbabwean football – George Mbwando, Elasto Kapowezha, Hope Chihota, Patrick Mandizha, Oscar Molife.

So whatever was imparted on Trey by Uncle Kuda, some of it surely had a Zimbabwean flavour.

What the Liverpool prodigy can also claim to have acquired is the Mbare DNA of natural athleticism and determination.   

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