Malawi national team star Gabadinho Mhango has clinched a one-year deal with sportswear manufacturer Nike, effectively becoming the first local footballer in modern era to be signed by the world’s most valuable apparel brand.
The deal comes barely a month after he joined South Africa top side Orlando Pirates from Bidvest Wits.
He previously played for Bloemfontein Celtic and Golden Arrows in that country.
Confirming the deal in an interview on Wednesday, Mhango said among the benefits, he would be given free boots and other merchandise.
“It’s amazing. I am thankful to God. This is really something I have always been praying and working for. Now I will not have to buy my accessories, but proudly be given the very latest Nike boots,” he said.
The 26-year-old was non-committal when asked how much he will earn from the deal.
“It is worth some good rands. Due to contract obligations, I can’t disclose it,” he said.
Mhango said the contract negotiations started some time back, but the could not be finalised because he wanted to clear his club football future first.
“We have just been working on letting a lot of things settle before everything,” he said.
Football marketing expert Felix Ngamanya Sapao said Mhango’s contract can be extended, depending on the financial benefits the sportswear manufacturer reaps from it.
“That’s an agreement whereby the sportswear brand dresses Gaba and uses his image rights for publicity.
“If Nike see that they are benefiting financially, way more than they are paying him, I can foresee the contract being extended,” he said.
Sapao said the striker can ensure the country benefits by working with Nike on football development programmes.
“Gaba comes from an area [Rumphi] with a lot of talent. He can use Nike to provide him with balls, kits and boots to have a developmental tournament there,” he said. Mhango joins well known sports stars under the Nike brand including Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, PSG forward Neymar, tennis icons Raphael Nadal and Serena Williams.