BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
FORMER Dynamos coach and midfield maestro Lloyd Mutasa has described the late football legend Misheck Chidzambga as a great motivator as well as an epitome of humility, in his glowing tribute to the man, who turned him into a superstar back in the day.
Chidzambga succumbed to cancer on Thursday night.
Mutasa was under the tutelage of Chidzambga for a period of five years, between 1990 and 1994 at Mutare-based side Tanganda when they transformed the club into a force to reckon with on the local scene.
Notably, they won the 1993 Castle Cup together with Mutasa the star of the show in every round of the competition.
Chidzambga became more like a father to Mutasa and even influenced his coaching career.
But their relationship started in 1986 when Mutasa was part of the Dynamos juniors and Chidzambga was already a legend at the Harare giants.
“Chidzambga made me who I am today. He was already a legend of the game, having been on the soccer stars calendar when I joined Dynamos juniors in 1986.
“I remember an occasion when he gave me his jersey as a young boy and it motivated me to want to emulate him in my career,” Mutasa told Standardsport.
“We would then meet in 1990 when he joined Tanganda as player coach and in his first season, I was called to the national team. The following season, we defied the odds and finished among the top three teams in the league.
“Chidzambga was also the first coach with whom I got my first medal in professional football when we won the Castle Cup after beating CAPS United. In 1994, I got onto the Soccer Stars calendar after I scored 19 goals and finished as the runner-up to the top goal scorer. It was all because of Chidzambga.”
Mutasa would leave Tanganda to join Dynamos the following season and so strong was their relationship that Chidzambga attended the former’s wedding in 1995.
Chidzambga’s coaching career started in the late 1990s when he deputised Ian Potterfield as well as Dutch coach Clemence Westerhof (both late) in the Warriors set-up before eventually taking over in 2000.
He would guide Zimbabwe to its first Cosafa title following a 6-0 aggregate victory over Lesotho in a two-legged final in 2000.
“He was a motivator and somebody, who could inspire. He was not only a coach, but a father figure to many, who worked under him. It should also be noted that he debunked the myth that soft spoken coaches cannot make great coaches and it’s an attribute I inherited from him,” Mutasa said.
“Chidzambga was also a very humble person, but he left a mark everywhere he worked.
“Together with his brother Sunday, they never exuded the ‘I know it all’ element, but were ready to learn from other people. It’s such a big loss to the football family and the country at large.”
Chidzambga’s playing career began at Chikwanha Rangers back in 1974, where he first linked up with his brother Sunday and formed a formidable defence.
In 1978, Chidzambga joined Dynamos following his brother Sunday, who had made the move a year earlier, and won seven league titles.
Chidzambga captained Zimbabwe to its first major title, the Cecafa Cup in 1985.
Known in football circles as Scania, Chidzambga coached Tanganda, Chapungu, Sporting Lions and Blue Ribbon.
It was after his stint with Blue Ribbon ended unceremoniously in 2011 that he vanished from the local football scene.
And after experiencing financial challenges, the football legend had to look for alternative sources of income and was reportedly driving a taxi a few years back.
“I stopped coaching because I was in a bad financial situation and without a job after Blue Ribbon fired me. And there was no guarantee of finding another coaching job soon and so I had to find other ways to get me out of the situation,” he told this publication in an exclusive interview in 2017.
“I am pleased with what I have achieved as a coach, especially winning the Cosafa Cup for my country. It was my highest achievement as a coach and it is satisfying to know I left a legacy in Zimbabwean football and I will always be remembered for it.”
According to his brother Sunday, Scania is set to be buried at his rural home in Mhondoro tomorrow.
Dynamos also paid tribute to their former player.
“Football has been robbed of one of the illustrious sons of Zimbabwean football. Misheck ‘Scania’ Chidzambga has been taken away from our midst and our hearts are heavy laden with grief as Zimbabwean football has been left poorer,” the Harare giants said in a statement.
“The late towering football legend ceased being a Dynamos Football Club star at independence once he donned the Warriors colours, colours in which he shone like a beacon.
“An affable character who always stood for excellence, Mukoma Misheck’s legacy shall stand out for all to see and cherish for posterity.”