Mwaruwari, at a ripe age of 32 is the only Zimbabwean in Europe’s elite league.
The Undertaker has managed to remain in Europe since starting his career at Grasshoppers Zurich of Switzerland in 2001 before going to France at the end of 2001.
He stayed there until 2005.
Almost ruled out of the game at one stage, Mwaruwari confounded critics by signing for a string of English clubs — Portsmouth, Manchester City, Sunderland and currently Blackburn Rovers.
And the secret to Mwaruwari’s continued flirtation with the Premier League is found in the study by the Professional Football Players’ Observatory (PFPO) which focused on 13 108 footballers playing for clubs in 36 top divisions leagues of Uefa member associations.
The study’s findings make a mockery of the earlier assertion that the European clubs prefer young players; something which has prompted most local players to alter their birth certificates, in a bid to secure lucrative contracts abroad.
The 80-page report by PFPO shows that footballers in Europe are becoming “older, taller, more mobile, especially internationally, and increasingly trained in a different club from which they play in”. This is the X-factor in European football.
The study revealed that the league with the highest number of tall players is in Czech Republic were the average height is 183,29 cm while the shortest players were found in Cyprus with an average height of 180,26cm. Mwaruwari is 188cm tall.
The study said Barcelona is the European club with the shortest players, while Inter Milan has the oldest ones. Manchester United has the greatest squad stability (5,7 seasons per player), while Tottenham Hotspurs has the roster with the most active full internationals.
The study also revealed that the Cypriot league has the highest number of expatriates in the world with 72,3% plying their trade in the country. This may explain why the Cypriot league was an easy destination for Zimbabwean players such as Shingi Kawondera, Thabani Moyo, Obadiah Tarumbwa and Eddie Mashinya among others.
However, Cyprus is the European league with the highest number of oldest players with an average of 28,02 years while Latvia has the youngest players with an average of 23,11 years.
Mwaruwari will be happy to know that most European teams are shifting to taller, older and more mobile players.
Mwaruwari signed a one-year deal with Blackburn Rovers, with an option of a further year at Ewood Park.
He made his debut, in a 1–1 draw, against Fulham on September 18. He made his first start for Blackburn versus Aston Villa in the third round of the League Cup, at Villa Park on September 22.
He scored the first goal, a glancing header, in Blackburn’s home game to Chelsea, on October 30 in the 21st minute, in a 2-1 defeat playing 46 minutes and being substituted by fellow striker Jason Roberts. On January 5 2011, he scored two goals against Liverpool in a 3-1 win at Ewood Park. All in all for the 2010-11 season, Mwaruwari made 14 appearances and scored three goals in all competitions.
Though the percentage of players having migrated internationally during their career is 45,7%, that of footballers playing in the club they were trained is only 23,4%,” the study said.
The PFPO is a research group that generates comparable statistical indicators in the areas of demography, training, international recruitment, mobility and pitch performance of professional football players.
Created in 2005, the PFPO brings together researchers from the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES), the Théma research centre of the University of Franche-Comté, and the Institute of Sports Science of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.