each time he was in possession of the ball, the whole stadium would roar — fans chanting Dumiiii…! Moments earlier, he had dispossessed the Dutch football legend Patrick Kluivert who was rather menacing on the afternoon in question.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
One of Zimbabwe’s adored former players, Dumisani “Commando” Mpofu was part of the Zimbabwe legends team that drew 2-2 with the Barcelona legends at the National Sports Stadium a fortnight ago.
It’s been nine years since the former CAPS United star retired from football as a result of an injury.
while many had expected to see the former Warriors tough tackling defender remain in football, he has since carved a different niche for himself as a renowned car dealer in Harare.
Mpofu runs Goldline Car Sales and Hire, a company he established when he was in South Africa while playing for Umtata Bush Bucks a little over a decade ago.
The company also offers hiring services for tours and weddings.
“What I had planned is not what happened because I broke my leg when I was at my peak as a footballer and looking to make big monies,” Mpofu told The Sports Hub in an interview at his business premises in Harare last week.
“But I am grateful for what God gave me in the end.”
“When I was in Johannesburg there was a friend of mine by the name Tinashe Madhende who was into buying and selling cars, so I would buy cars regularly and give him to sell for me. But when I broke my leg and eventually retired from playing, I decided to come back and take over the business of selling cars. This is my workplace where I earn my livelihood. I am surviving and living comfortably,” he continued.
That Mpofu is yet to acquire any coaching qualifications is evidence that he does not quite miss the razzmatazz of football life.
“I want to start doing some coaching courses soon so that I can keep them for future purposes but I may not be a coach because I think I prefer being a manager,” Mpofu revealed.
Ever since he was young, hard work and dedication was what distinguished him from his peers.
By the time he was 14, Mpofu was already working part-time for a company called Aluminum in the Willowvale industrial area first as a helper in the canteen and later as a forklift driver.
That was the company that gave him an opportunity to develop as a footballer turning out for Aluminum Tigers in Division Three in the late 1980s.
“My football career began at Aluminum Tigers in Division Three. I started working for the company when I was in form 1 and when I got to form 2, I was already a permanent employee. I learnt my aggressive style of football playing in Division Three because it was more physical and aggressive than the Premiership,” he said.
In 1993 Steve Kwashi, then at Air Zimbabwe Jets and John Nyamasoka, who was coaching Rufaro Rovers got wind of the talented defender and started chasing after his signature.
Mpofu chose the latter because it meant playing in the top-flight league. after just one season, however, feted Polish coach Grabowski brought him to Darryn Textiles, but unfortunately the team was soon disbanded.
Having played for the Blackpool side which lost the title to Dynamos on goal difference in 1995, Mpofu spoke about how CAPS United hijacked his anticipated move to Dynamos.
“At the end of my second year at Blackpool, former Dynamos chairman Morrison Sifelani was literally sleeping at our house trying to lure me into joining Dynamos. I actually played for Dynamos in a Charity match against Highlanders.
“Initially, I was supposed to join Dynamos but at the last minute Shepherd Bwanya, the CAPS United chairman, came to Aluminium with a stash of hard cash and convinced me to sign with them at the end of 1996. The money he brought is probably the reason I joined CAPS United and not Dynamos,” he chuckled.
After four years at CAPS United, an opportunity to move to South Africa arose after he had gone there for duty with the Warriors.
“We played South Africa in a World Cup qualifier in 2001 and I was marking Shaun Bartlett. I had a good game. Directors from Umtata Bush Bucks asked Wilfred Mugeyi who was already playing for the team to bring me for trials and I remained in South Africa. In two days they had signed me.”
That is the club that he played for from 2001 up to 2008 and was voted Player of the Year in 2005 and received a Mercedes Benz.
Mpofu was also part of the Warriors team that took part at the 2004 Africa Cup on Nations in Tunisia for the first time. he is yet to get over the career-ending injury that kept him from making the 2006 tournament in Egypt — 10 days before the start of the competition.
“The Afcon 2006 experience was the worst moment of my football career and I can safely say it marked the end of my playing career. We camped at Auxerre, the team that Benjani [Mwaruwari]played for in France, and just 10 days before we went to Egypt, we had a friendly against Morocco and I broke my knee in that game.
“I was marking Marouane Chamakh in that game. A long ball came and I jumped to clear it with my head. When I landed my foot got stuck in the ground and I turned and broke all the ligaments, it was devastating. I was looking forward to competing at the highest level for one last time, but it was not to be. Even when I got fit again, I was never the same Dumi and that was the beginning of my retirement,” he said.
While he mentioned Tauya Murehwa, Vitalis Ndlovu, Jani Milanzi and Agent Sawu as some the most difficult strikers he played against, on the international stage he had only one name — Cameroonian legend Patrick Mboma.
“I know there was Samuel Eto’o on the Cameroon side but of all the people I have marked, Mboma was too much. He did not have the body of a footballer; he was huge and looking at his body frame, you would think he could not run. And when he was in possession you would know that spelt trouble. He was quite quick and extremely powerful. When he took a shot from whatever distance, it meant trouble for the goalkeeper,” Mpofu said.
Mpofu thoroughly enjoyed a reunion with former Warriors vice-captain and centre-back partner Kaitano Tembo in the Zimbabwe legends exhibition match. During their playing days, the two formed a formidable partnership, arguably the best in Zimbabwean colours in years gone by.
“It was amazing, I must say. We are always in touch with Kaitano and he had visited me at my car sale three times before he came to Zimbabwe. I was very happy to be part of the legends. It means I did something for Zimbabwean football which I am remembered and appreciated for.
“We should play games often as Zimbabwe legends as a way to raise money to help other former players who are struggling to make a living — even organise games against legends from Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and create a trust to assist where there is need,” he said.