ONE of Zimbabwe’s finest goalkeepers, Japhet Mparutsa, has applauded former players for their overwhelming support during the launch of his autobiography titled Japhet “Shortcat” Mparutsa: My Story in the United Kingdom last Sunday.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The book — the first to be written by a former Zimbabwean footballer — was launched at the Dunstable Rugby Club grounds in Bedfordshire with local football legends coming in their numbers to support Mparutsa.
“The support I received from fellow former players was just amazing. I was really touched by the way they made the effort to come and support the book launch. They travelled from all over the United Kingdom, which was quite pleasing. We are currently in the process of organising a similar event in Zimbabwe, hopefully in December. It would be nice to host a launch back home where we can invite some of the guys I played alongside such as Stix Mtizwa and others based in Zimbabwe,” Mparutsa said.
Some of the UK-based former football players who attended the book launch include Memory Mucherahowa, Joe Mugabe, Maxwell “Marhino” Dube, Bheki Mhlotswa, Chamu Musanhu, Obey Murefu, Muzondiwa Mugadza and Frank Nyamukuta, among others.
A football match to celebrate the book was also held at the venue, pitting the Dynamos UK Legends, who beat the Zim UK Legends 3-2.
Former Chapungu striker and 2001 Soccer Star of the Year Dube was also one of the former stars to grace the book launch before expressing his delight to play alongside Mparutsa.
“It was an honour to play in the same team with one of the best goalkeepers to emerge from Zimbabwe,” Dube wrote on his Facebook page.
“I still remember when Black Rhinos came to Ascot Stadium to play Gweru United. I was a ball boy, but yesterday [last Sunday] we played together,” Dube wrote.
Known to football fans as Shortcat, Mparutsa — who was crowned the 1982 Soccer Star of the Year, at the age of 19 — said he decided to write the book in the hope that it would inspire others not to give up on their dreams.
“When I wrote this book, I wanted to leave a legacy,” Mparutsa told Standardsport from his UK base early this week. “There are some kids who never saw me play, who never saw George Shaya play. So they must read that book so that they know there was a Mparutsa who used to play football.”
The book traces how Mparutsa rose from humble beginnings in Mbare in the 1970s to become one of the finest goalkeepers in Zimbabwe, starring for top teams such as Dynamos, Black Rhinos, Darryn T and South Africa’s Bloemfontein Celtic.
The 74-page autobiography also explores some of the decisions Mparutsa made in his footballing career, spanning more than 17 years, such as his decision to leave Dynamos and join army side Black Rhinos.
Former Highlanders FC and Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar described the book as “a story of persistence and determination in the face of adversity”.