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Antonio reflects on fairytale rise

BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE

A FAIRY-TALE. It is perhaps the best way to describe Dynamos prodigy Bill Antonio’s year.

This was a year in which the Upper Six student at Prince Edward School was supposed to focus more on his academics since it’s an exam year.

In fact on November 30, Antonio sits for his Advanced Level final exams.

Yet this is the same year the boy from Dzivarasekwa joined the biggest football club in the country, claiming a regular starting place while barely a fortnight ago he made his Warriors debut against neighbours South Africa.

It was a surreal moment for Antonio coming on in the 86th minute for captain Khama Billiat, who has now retired from international football, despite the team losing the match 1 -0.

Perhaps it signified the passing on of the baton to the new generation of upcoming Warriors’ stars.

And since making his Warriors dance at just 18, Antonio has had sleepless nights trying to catch-up on his school work and make sure he is ready for the exams.

“Beginning on the 30th of November I sit for my final exams. So with exam preps I have been doing exams online and also being helped by my teachers and classmates. I have been having sleepless nights trying to catch up with my school work,” Antonio told The Sports Hub.

“Balancing the two, football and school is what keeps me going and I know that I cannot abandon any of the two. I plan to pursue education further. I want to go up to university and then do a degree in social sciences and then afterwards will target a Sports Science Diploma.”

Antonio is doing a combination that includes Literature, History and Family and Religious Studies at ‘A’ Level.

The football dream for Antonio was to be able break into the premier league before he finishes high school, but never in his wildest imagination did he imagine that he would also have a senior Zimbabwe team cap by the time he completes Advanced Level.

“It was an amazing feeling and it’s a huge honour to make my debut for the Warriors at this age against a big team like South Africa. In as much as I know, I hoped to play for the national team maybe at the age of 22 or 23 and it was in my wildest dream to make my debut at this young age.

“But through the character and determination that I have shown, the Lord Almighty was always watching and he then just granted me the opportunity. So yes I would like to thank and pray to God so that he continues guiding me,” Antonio said.

And it was coach Norman Mapeza, who handed Antonio his debut.

“The coach did not say much, he just told me: go and enjoy the moment and I did just that. The senior players were also very supportive so that I get to enjoy the game and I am grateful,” he said.

Antonio’s fairytale began late last year when he made the Zimbabwe national Under-20 for Cosafa and excelled.

Harare giants Dynamos were swift in signing the player and a few others from Prince Edward Academy.

He is also the athletics team captain at the prestigious Harare school.

Today, Antonio will also try to help Dynamos beat FC Platinum in the Chibuku Super Cup semi-final clash at the National Sports Stadium.

And with the way things have been panning out for Antonio this year; it will be no surprise if he can go all the way to list the first major piece of silverware come December 4.

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