You can be forgiven if you have never heard about this Azam Tigers young all-round midfielder Yamikani Chester.
There is a special breed of footballers who the football technocrats call coaches’ players, best defined by their absence rather than presence on the pitch.
These are players whom fans see but never take notice of. These are players who, save for being servants of efficiency, are no slaves to the useless business of showboating.
It was for this reason the Claude Makelele role notion only cropped up when the Spanish giants let go the Frenchman after refusing to entertain his demands for wage hike to be at par with the Galacticos such as Zinedine Zidane.
Ten years later, Real have never replaced the former Chelsea man. Zinedine Zidane claimed that Makelele’s departure resulted in the club losing their “entire engine”.
Back home, only few people notice that the Flames’ midfield has never been the same since Hellings Mwakasungula’s retirement.
It is a thankless job, these coaches’ footballers do. Chester is no exception.
Granted, it may take a year or two before he gets some attention. Not that he is asking for any attention, but Chester is too good a talent that needs to be nurtured.
On paper, he plays as an attacking midfield but in reality, Chester is a box to box player, readily available to receive the ball, always searching for the lost ball, always willing to risk his limbs in every tackle, challenging and battling for, what to an ordinary eye, may appear to be a lost cause.
Head up all the time, the lanky boy just reminds one of a young Robert Ng’ambi bursting on the domestic football scene over a decade ago.
Only that Chester has since his days at the now defunct Premier Division side Polychem All Stars, have had something special which Ng’ambi lacks, which is endless energy that translates to an ever-peaking work rate.
Fearless and nerveless, Chester is one of those technically gifted young players that are more appreciated when absent.
He has no strength but rather strengths as a combined package of a ball winner and a ball player. He seems to be a new version of Big Bullets midfield pit-bull James Chilapondwa.
So multi-talented is Chester that he divides opinion on what his best position is.
Southern Region Football League (SRFL) vice-general secretary Kingsley Simbeye thinks the Under-20 international is at his best operating as an attacking midfielder.
“That boy is so good that he is in the class of Jimmy Chikulekule [formerly of Blantyre United],” suggests Simbeye.
It was, therefore, some version of student-meeting-master when Chester went toe-to-toe with Chilapondwa on Tuesday during Big Bullets’ TNM Super League encounter at Kamuzu Stadium.
They both battled for every ball. They both were left in heaps. They both could pick each other up when on their knees after a mistimed tackle or after a foul. Usually, such encounters ignite bad blood, yelling and grabbing each other by the neck, but not this duel between Chilapondwa and Chester.
The more they starved each other of the ball, the more their mutual respect grew. You could tell they share a similar playing philosophy.
So fierce were the personal battles in the heart of the pitch that Chilapondwa at times let hard-tackling Blessings Kawanga police the fierce Chester.
After the game, SportsXtra asked Chilapondwa to pick his best midfielder for Tigers in that game, and his choice was obvious, Chester.
“I would go for their attacking midfielder. He is good in the air. He has delightful touches and his movements on and off the ball were top class,” the veteran midfielder explained.
Chester has the potential but any illusions that he could become a real deal in the near future might be a gamble, but many talented young players in Malawi have never fulfilled their potential.
Chester has some rough edges needing finishing. He can sometimes lose his positional discipline and he shoots less on target for an attacking midfielder.
Chilapondwa put Chester’s play in perspective: “Such things are common among young players. He will become better with time. He also makes unimportant runs that tend to drain his energy.”