For former Ziscosteel and Warriors linkman Kennedy “Black Diamond” Nagoli, not only did he fulfill this dream, but he impressed Pele to the extent of signing him for crack Brazilian side Santos for the 1995/1996 season.
Known for their “symbol of beautiful and exciting football”, Brazilians rarely import players and for the then 22-year-old Nagoli to be afforded such a chance, it was no mean achievement.
Then on the books of South African side Jomo Cosmos, Nagoli’s meeting with Pele was just by “chance” as the Brazilian was in South Africa for business and to meet former head of state Nelson Mandela.
“Pele and Jomo were team mates at New York Cosmos in America, so when he visited South Africa, he came to watch one of our games. That is when he decided that Arthur Zwane and I were good enough to play for Santos FC in Brazil,” he said.
Among the players that Nagoli rubbed shoulders with at Santos FC were former Brazil national team player Giovanni.
However, their stay at the club was to be short lived as Santos experienced problems that saw the club releasing players such as Nagoli, Zwane and Giovanni, who was sold to Barcelona.
“The club experienced serious financial problems and that meant we had to come back to Jomo Cosmos in South Africa. However, I had learnt a lot from my stay in that league and I rank it among the most competitive leagues in the world,” he said.
Unfortunately his experience was to prove costly for Zimbabweans as Nagoli’s South African side Jomo Cosmos were paired together with local giants Dynamos in the 1997 Africa Cup of Cup Winners tie.
Though playing below par “owing to a bout of flu”, Nagoli proved to be the difference in the two matches as Dynamos lost the match 2-0 on aggregate to bow out of the tournament.
“We managed to beat Dynamos and that was good for the team,” he said.
Nagoli’s stay on his comeback was not long as he left for Greece’s First Division side Aris Thessaloniki FC where he played until 2002.
“I stayed for five seasons at the Greek club managing to play in the Uefa Champions League. Other clubs that I also played for include Pas Giannena, Enosis Neoan Paralimi and AEK Larnaka in Cyprus,” he said.
The former Warriors midfielder started his career at Ziscosteel where he broke into the first team while in Form One at Kwekwe’s Manunure High School. In 1991, together with Paul Gundani, they were the two players from “Mashiripiti Engozi” to be on the Soccer Stars of the Year calendar. Unfortunately, Ziscosteel was relegated that season and Nagoli had to look for another club.
“I joined Darryn T where I played with the likes of Lloyd Chitembwe Norman Mapeza, Alois Bunjira, Edelbert Dinha and Stewart Murisa,” he said.
The following season he retraced his roots to Ziscosteel. He was spotted by Sono while playing for the Zimbabwe Under-20 in Swaziland in 1993 and launched a career outside the country.
Nagoli also remembers his time with the Young Warriors as well as the Dream Team under Reinhard Fabisch.
“We finished fourth at the 1991 All-Africa Games, but I am disappointed that we failed to qualify for any major tournament with the Dream Team,” he said.
Nagoli’s journey in professional football, which ended at the age of 34, has seen him running one of the most expensive nurseries called Bambino in Kwekwe as well as a soccer academy called Sportive in the same city.
Nagoli, who rejoined the CAPS United coaching department last year, said he is disappointed by the abscence of talent locally.
“Today’s players lack not only the talent, but commitment as well,” he said.
He, however refused to describe his relationship with his current boss at CAPS United Sean Connor whom he was rumored to have crossed swords with in the past days.
“Let us not go into that,” he said.