BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
WHEN Dynamos goalkeepers’ coach Gift Muzadzi was a junior at Darryn T FC, he coveted the club’s hooped Umbro senior team kit.
Only the senior team had the privilege to wear the particular jersey and he came up with a plan.
Luckily for young Muzadzi, his grandmother had knitted for him a woollen jersey whose design was the same as the team jersey won by the Darryn T in the local league.
Legendary goalkeeper Japhet Mparutsa, then the team’s first- choice goalkeeper, had given him some old gloves and he decided to rip off the Umbro tag and sewed it onto his jersey.
And when he put on his jersey, which he used for training, there was raucous amusement among his peers and from that day onwards they nicknamed him “Umbro”.
The name stuck on during his illustrious career that saw him play football in the local league, Poland, the Caf Champions League final as well as at the Egypt Africa Cup of Nations in 2006.
Now a goalkeepers’ coach, Umbro made a return to Dynamos to assist Tonderai Ndiraya to save the club’s rocking boat last month and after making a positive start at the club, he found time to talk about his nickname.
“I loved the Umbro kit that Darryn T used to wear so much that when I was a junior I took an old Umbro tag from gloves I got from Mparutsa and sewed it onto my woollen jersey. That’s how I got the name Umbro,” the legendry goalkeeper told The Sports Hub.
Muzadzi would get make Darryn T debut in 1992, the same year he made it onto the soccer star of the year calendar before club owner Wieslaw Grabowski took him to Lech Poznan.
The goalkeeper would return to Zimbabwe to star for the country at the All Africa Games, later on joining Dynamos, with whom he won the league title and reached the Caf Champions League final in 1998.
Many will remember Muzadzi as that daring goalkeeper who would make a great save in big matches and he would get up and throw the ball onto the crossbar before despatching it.
“I started it when we played CAPS United at Rufaro and we were leading 1 – 0. I made a save and just to scare my teammates, I threw the ball against the crossbar and caught it again. It became my trademark in big games.
“I remember coach Sunday Chidzambga saying to me ‘Givy, one day you will give me a heart attack on the bench by doing that’. But that what game me confidence and a big heart during my career,” Muzadzi said.
As a budding goalkeeper, Muzadzi was inspired by the likes of England greats Peter Shilton, Spaniard Andoni Zubizarreta as well as countryman Bruce Grobbelaar.
It was his desire to have a long career as his idols did, but injury cut it short as he hung his gloves soon after Afcon.
Muzadzi, whose dream is to become one of the best specialist goalkeepers’ coach in the country, has since imparted his expertise at Triangle, Ngezi Platinum and Dynamos just to mention a few clubs.
He tells a story of how he somehow prophesied through a text that Tonderai Ndiraya would get the Dynamos job.
“Ndiraya, Biggie Zuze and I talk a lot even if we are not coaching at the same team. When we were offloaded at Ngezi, we didn’t know that we would come to Dynamos.
“But the situation at Dynamos worried us because of what we did for Dynamos. These scars we have on our legs we got them playing for Dynamos so it hurt so much that the club was struggling.
“When the team lost to Herentals, I sent Ndiraya a message and told him that the team was in trouble and if they lost again it would be all over and they would be relegated. I then said if they offer you the job take it so we can go and fix things. And days later I heard that Tonde had been appointed and I knew I was coming back,” Muzadzi revealed.
Dynamos are still to lose a match since Ndiraya and his team, that includes Muzadzi, took over, recording two wins and a draw going into the weekend games.
But what had been the secret to their early success according to Muzadzi?
“Sometimes it is just what a coach says to the players. You may have an average squad, but if you tell them that they are at the same level with Cristiano Ronaldo, then they will give you the best. So far they have responded very well. I am sure with hard work these boys will make history in the near future,” he said.
Of his four children, Muzadzi reckons his third born Tashinga, a midfielder, will carry on his legacy. His first born Tafadzwa is into music, while the two girls Rutendo and Tadiwa are his biggest supporters.