Former Inter Milan player McDonald Mariga on Monday quit football to try his hand in politics after accepting a nomination by Kenya’s Jubilee Party to be its candidate in a by-election for a parliamentary seat in Kibra constituency.
32-year-old Mariga’s announcement ends a 16-year playing career despite him currently being without a club.
“I have retired from football and have decided to go and give back to the community,” Mariga told the media on Monday.
Mariga beat 15 other candidates who wanted to vie for the seat which fell vacant following the death of Ken Okoth, who succumbed to colon cancer in July aged 41.
Mariga will face off against aspirants from other political parties on November 7.
Mariga hails from a family steeped in football tradition. His father, Noah Wanyama, was a coach and football administrator while his brother, Victor Wanyama, currently plays for English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur and is captain of the men’s national football team.
Mariga’s most successful spell came in 2010 when he won the “treble” with Italian club Inter Milan claiming the Series A title, the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Champions League.
He has also played for other European clubs such as Enokpings, Helsingborgs, Parma, Real Sociedad and Real Oviedo.
Mariga will hope to emulate former Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir who served as MP for Cherangany constituency between 2013 and 2017.
Mariga is not the first former African footballer to join active politics.
Former AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea player George Weah won Liberia’s presidential elections in December 2017 and succeeded Ellen Johnson Sirleaf after two failed attempts.
Former Liverpool and West Ham striker Titi Camara was appointed Guinea’s sports minister by President Alpha Conde in 2010 but was then replaced in a government reshuffle two years later.