Harambee Stars defender Joseph Okumu has spoken highly of his international teammates, ahead of the Afcon finals in Egypt in June and July.
The Real Monarchs defender picked his defensive partners Erick Ouma, Brian Mandela and David Owino as sources of inspiration from an early age.
Okumu and Ouma were in Kakamega High School and won the Kenya National Secondary Schools title in 2014, a feat he says came after a lot of hard work and resilience.
"We were admitted together at School in the same year and at some point, I think we were even deskmates. We did not play in the first two years in school but we managed it in the third one. It has been quite a journey and it is not a coincidence that we are here [with Harambee Stars)]" Okumu was quoted as saying by the Football Kenya Federation website.
"We were patient enough, never gave up and we took the moment [when they were not playing] to learn. We finally did and now I am proud of him and I give him credit."
The defensive duo of David Owino and Brian Mandela are also footballers who Okumu has been looking up to for inspiration. Mandela, who plays for Maritzburg United in South Africa, will not feature at the Afcon finals due to injury, though.
"I have grown up watching Owino and Mandela. That we are now in the same team and fighting for the same positions is an achievement and a moment I have been waiting for. I played with Mandela against Madagascar and he was an amazing partner," he added.
"I wish him quick recovery but I hope we will play together again in future."
Okumu added that Brazilian centre-back Thiago Silva and Senegal and Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly are his internationals idols.
"I have always admired [Thiago] Silva and I wish I will meet him one day whether by playing against or with him or even meeting him in person. He has always been a stand-out player for me," he concluded.
"In Africa, I admire Koulibaly and if I get a chance to play against him, it would be wonderful."
Kenya will participate in the Afcon finals as one of the Group C teams alongside Algeria, Tanzania and Senegal.