Phillip Mwene: Marauding fullback with Kenyan roots who kept Kylian Mbappe and co at bay in Austria's Euro 2024 opener

Phillip Mwene: Marauding fullback with Kenyan roots who kept Kylian Mbappe and co at bay in Austria's Euro 2024 opener

Mark Kinyanjui 07:46 - 19.06.2024

Everything you need to know this defender with Kenyan blood flowing through his veins that is representing his country at Euro 2024.

The Euro 2024 kicked off last Friday with hosts Germany absolutely pulverising the life out of Scotland, beating them 5-1 in Munich.

This curtain raised what has been an exciting tournament so far, with the first round of fixtures being played as teams fight tooth and nail to qualify for the second round of the competition.

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One of the teams that have already played their first match are Austria, who narrowly lost 1-0 to 2018 World Cup winners France in Leipzig, but produced a spirited display that left fans in awe. 

Under Ralf Rangnick, they have been playing a swashbuckling brand of football - the gegenpress- which has left fans in awe.

One of the players that have benefitted massively from the arrival of the former Manchester United interim coach is Phillip Mwene.

Kenyan football fans will be excited at hearing the news, but will be upset that he chose to play for his country of birth, rather than his father’s homeland Kenya.

But who is Mwene? Pulse Sports Kenya brings you up to speed.

Early Life and Background

Phillipp Mwene was born to a Kenyan father and an Austrian mother. His parents' love story began in Kenya, where his mother was on holiday.

 They fell in love and eventually settled in Vienna, where Mwene and his sister were raised. Growing up in Vienna, Mwene was surrounded by African culture and football, thanks to his father's African restaurant in the city.

"We always went back to our family in Kenya for the holidays. We first went there when we were 8 or 9. It was interesting to get to know everybody because I do not see them every day," Mwene recalls. These visits helped him understand his roots and appreciate his heritage, even though he felt Austrian due to his upbringing.

Club Career

Mwene began his football journey at the FK Austria Wien academy, where he played from 2002 until 2010. 

His talent was evident, and he moved to VfB Stuttgart's youth system in 2010. After progressing through the ranks, Mwene joined 1. FC Kaiserslautern in 2016, where he continued to develop his skills.

In 2018, Mwene made a significant move to 1. FSV Mainz 05, a Bundesliga club where he would eventually showcase his abilities on a bigger stage. 

After three years with Mainz, he sought new challenges and transferred to PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands in 2021. His time in the Eredivisie was fruitful, but in 2023, Mwene decided to return to Mainz, where he continues to play in the Bundesliga.

Playing Style and Position

Phillipp Mwene is predominantly a right-back but is also capable of playing as a left-back and in midfield. 

His versatility has been a valuable asset for his teams, allowing coaches to deploy him in various positions based on tactical needs. Throughout his Bundesliga career, Mwene has played 53 matches for Mainz, scoring two goals.

Despite being eligible to play for Kenya, Mwene chose to represent Austria, the country of his birth.

International Career

Despite being eligible to play for Kenya, Mwene chose to represent Austria, the country of his birth. Initially, it was thought that he might consider playing for Kenya, especially after being overlooked by Austria for several years despite his performances for the U19 and U21 teams.

However, Mwene decided to wait for his chance with Austria, which eventually came in 2021.

Since making his debut for the Austrian national team, Mwene has earned 13 caps and has become a key part of Ralf Rangnick's plans. His performances have been crucial for Austria, especially in their current Euro 2024 campaign, where they are showcasing a swashbuckling brand of football.

Personal Reflections

Mwene’s connection to Kenya remains strong, and he takes pride in his heritage. "Every time I speak to my dad, he tells me how proud they are that I made it because sports is a pretty huge deal in Kenya and Africa in general. It is nice to know that the people watching me from the other side of the planet are supporting me, which makes me very proud," Mwene shared.

Phillipp Mwene's journey from a young boy in Vienna to an international football star is a testament to his hard work, talent, and dedication. 

With a bright future ahead, Mwene continues to make his mark on the football world, bringing pride to both Austria and Kenya. His story is an inspiring example of how embracing one's roots and staying committed to one's goals can lead to remarkable achievements.