WARRIORS’ legends Norman Mapeza, Adam Ndlovu and Bruce Grobbelaar can be counted as rare Zimbabweans to play for biggest football clubs in European leagues, as well as enjoying colourful careers with the national team.
REPORT BY MICHAEL MADYIRA
Quincy Antipas, who turns out for Brøndby IF, the biggest club in Denmark, has joined that crop but unfortunately has not had a decent run in national team colours.
With Denmark currently ranked number 23 in the world and with a fairly competitive local league, a player like Antipas would be a blessing to any African country. African national teams often desperately banks on European-based players for glory.
It is agonising for Antipas to watch legendary teammate and former Ajax Amsterdam winger Dennis Rommedahl, who is the second most capped Danish player with a staggering 121 appearances in his national team colours.
Club captain Clarence Goodson was at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with the United States of America.
While getting regular game time at a club that has world football legends Michael Laudrup and Peter Schmeichel in its Hall of Fame, it seems it has to take a monumental effort for Antipas to win the faith of national team coaches.
Often underutilised by national team coaches, a frustrated Antipas was in 2011 reported to have quit the national team but claims he was misquoted and had never thrown in the towel.
“I have been dropped from the national team many times and it’s frustrating but I will never turn my back against my country,” Antipas said.
“I will always come back for my country no matter how many times I have been left out. If I am given the chance to play, I will give 100% effort. I know I am not the best player in the national team but I always do my best if I am in the team.
“Football in Denmark is very competitive. The game is more tactical and group-oriented. I feel my game has tremendously improved and I am excited at this chance of playing for a big club.”
While he has been called for national duty numerous times only to warm the bench and failing to make it into the final squad, Antipas has his memorable moments in the gold and green jersey.
Many would remember his Warriors debut in which he scored in a low-key match against Zanzibar at the National Sports Stadium in 2005 before a brave show against the much superior Brazilians at the same venue prior to the 2010 World Cup.
Antipas’s dance with the Warriors is set to improve with newly-appointed coach Klaus Dieter Pagels known to be an admirer of the player.
The former CAPS United player started his Danish sojourn at Blokhus in 2008 before joining HB Køge
Signing for Brøndby on September 3 last year, the midfielder had charmed the Copenhagen club with a scintillating show of nine goals in 29 appearances for his previous club SønderjyskE in the 2011/2012 season.
This form at one point helped Antipas to attract Italian Serie A side Atalanta, Dutch club FC Gronigen and Club Brugge of Belgium.
At 28, the Mighty Bulls ex-man is not stopping in Denmark and harbours ambitions of playing in more competitive European leagues.
“I never stop dreaming. I have ambitions to go far and I know I will make it to play for a top European club,” Antipas said.
“The problem in Zimbabwe is that we lack opportunities to play in Europe unlike West Africans. Look at me, I moved to Denmark when I was 24 years-old which is an age when I should have already been there.”
In his first season at Brøndby, Antipas has met fresh responsibilities that include fighting relegation in the 12-team Danish Superliga, an unfamiliar standard for the most supported team in Denmark.
“When I was signed, the club boldly told me that they had brought me to help them win trophies and I already knew of their big status as a great football institution. But lately we have been picking up points and very soon we will be up there. Everyone knows what is expected by the fans.”
On, his way to Denmark, Antipas who is son to Motor Action coach Joey had a two-year stint in Morocco where he turned out for Moghreb Tétouan and MAS Fez.
But he would love to forget about his time in Morocco where he played from 2006 to 2008.
“I experienced some sickening things that one does not expect from a professional club up to a point where I became desperate for a move. I ended up not getting the signing-on fees that I was promised from both clubs. I do not want to say how much, but it was a substantial amount of money. I also had to endure late payments of salaries and that did not happen to me only but to a lot of West African players as well. It was exploitation because they knew we were desperate to play in a foreign league.
“However, football was more technical and a bit fast in Morocco. It is an Islamic country but it was not hard to adapt because my mother is Moslem and I had been to the Mosque several times when I was a young boy,” he said with a chuckle.