Thursday, 14 December 2017

Coventry City Advent Calendar - My 25 Favourite Players - Day 14 - Gael Bigirimana

In recent times there seems to have been a bit of discussion regarding the list and how all players on here are bad, that's the opinion of some but I really couldn't disagree more. Once again, it's all personal preference, and it's literally all I've ever known. Plus today's instalment, whether you were alive in 87' or the Premier League era or not, you can't help but love him. He's a humble lad but a great character, plus the story which comes with Gael Bigirimana is heartwarming nonetheless.

As an 8 year old refugee from Burundi he turned up to Ryton looking for a trial and was given one, presumably out of pity. He took the chance given to him and didn't look back, signing his first professional deal in the summer of 2011 at age just 17. I'm not sure whether it displays his quality as a youngster that he was a fairly regular member of the side the following season or that we were grossly low on depth in midfield. Either way, it worked for him on a personal level as he won Championship Young Apprentice of the Year Award and earned himself a transfer to Newcastle United upon the Sky Blues relegation to League One.

In hindsight it was probably a mistake for him to move, but you couldn't blame the lad for doing it, he's already proved he could perform in the Championship at such a young age so why would he mess about in League One when Newcastle cam knocking? To be fair to The Magpies, they did give him a relative chance in the Premier League, looking to get something back from the £1 million spent and the five year deal dished out by Alan Pardew. 

Unfortunately it didn't work out in the north east and he pretty much wasted 4 years of his career there, spending his time mostly playing youth football. The next sniff he got, not including a pointless loan move to Rangers where he failed to play a game, was a move back to us in November 2015 where he joined back on an emergency loan deal. Whether it was a combination of trying to get his match sharpness back and John Fleck and Romain Vincelot being brilliant, he struggled to assert himself into the first team.

However when that partnership got carted off to various other League One clubs, Bigi was brought back in on a permanent basis being surplus to requirements at Newcastle. He went onto score his first goal for us at Wycombe in the Checkatrade Trophy group stage, 6 years after his debut. Then after going out of favour under Russell Slade, the bald idiot, Mark Robins rated him highly and started him ever game. I ended up giving him the Player of the Season Award last season. It may have had something to do with Wembley...

Jordan Willis found himself on the right wing under the arch, put in a cross into the box which Stuart Beavon got a good connection with but his volley was blocked. Still 10 minutes in it had been a nervy start, but the ball in this position dropped to Bigi, in a heart in mouth moment he cooly slotted into the bottom corner, scoring the first goal of the 2-1 win against Oxford United. Not to mention his first child was born the day before. Then at the death he cleared off the line to keep us ahead and ultimately was a huge factor in us winning the trophy. 

He'll always have a place in my heart given his demeanour as well as the football he played. It's a shame he went to Motherwell but with us once again being relegated it's no surprise that he did given he had a shot of getting into Europe north of the border, but knowing him, it's fairly likely we'll see him back for a fourth spell at some stage soon. 

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