Ayub Masika Timbe could on Wednesday, February 12, achieve one of his long-held dreams as he stands a good chance of making his English football debut when Reading FC faces off with West Brom at the Madejski Stadium in Reading, England.
Masika has come a long way from the dusty Woodley grounds in Kibra Constituency, Nairobi where his talent first became apparent playing as a striker for various youth teams.
The Harambee Stars winger's six-month loan move from top-flight Chinese side Beijing Renhe to English Football League (EFL) Championship side Reading was sealed on Friday, January 31, the final day of the January football transfer window.
The speedy, silky winger is expected to offer head coach Mark Bowen's side a sharper attacking threat down the right-hand side. If the move works out, Timbe may yet sign a permanent deal with the English club with its sights set on promotion to the English Premier League (EPL).
Timbe featured in Under-14 tournaments for teams including Kibera Black Stars FC where his talent became apparent, eventually joining the Ligi Ndogo academy and, later, JMJ Academy.
Swedish international, John Guidetti, spent many years growing up in Kenya and it was through his family that Timbe got a chance to go to Europe.
Guidetti's father had come to Kenya to work with a Swedish school in Nairobi and the younger Guidetti, an ardent footballer, formed a special bond with Timbe whom he met and played with at various tournaments.
Their former coach, Tiras Waiyaki, told Vox Media-owned sports publication SB Nation that even at a young age, everyone would acknowledge Timbe's incredible talent whenever he got on the pitch.
"On the pitch they were a lethal striking partnership, though at times the latter would play at the wing as I gave him freedom to rove. Ayubu sat at the top of our attack and finished off the business. Off the pitch they laughed together in each other’s arms. The truth is Guidetti admired Ayubu immensely for his incredible talent. So did everyone else anyway!
"He was a spectacular natural who needed little training or motivation. Pacy, could dribble, hold off an opponent, turn like Johan Cruyff, create, read the game, anticipate, spoke little but positioned himself well enough to do his bit and do his bit he did, little Ayubu.
"The best on the squad, by a mile, streets ahead of everyone! His discipline and impeccable manners were any coach’s dream," Waiyaki told SBNation for the interview published on Monday, February 3.
Two years after joining JMJ Academy in Nairobi at the age of 13 in 2006, Timbe joined Belgium's Beerschot AC (then Germinal Beerschot) academy.
In 2010, Timbe got his big break as he signed for Belgian top-flight side Genk. He eventually moved to Lierse on a two-year loan deal in 2014 before joining the club on a permanent contract in July 2016.
In February 2017, Timbe joined China League One side Beijing Renhe, helping the team secure promotion to China's top-flight league. In two seasons, he scored seventeen goals and provided several assists sparking interest from top European sides.
Timbe has proved his worth on the international front as well and famously provided two assists as Kenya beat Tanzania 3-2 at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament held in Cairo, Egypt in 2019.
In an interview with Reading FC's official channel after completing his move, Timbe looked forward to starting his first game for the Royals as he revealed that playing in England had always been his dream.
He noted that a move to Reading had been mooted over in 2019 but failed to go through.
“I have talked of this move for some time and now it happens. Playing in England and at Reading is what I have really wanted. Now I have to work hard and help my team,” he stated.
Watch a video shared by Reading FC after Masika was unveiled:
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