By Robson Sharuko
WASHINGTON ARUBI has revealed that three unnamed European clubs have shown interest in his services in landmark developments that could open a new challenging chapter for the Zimbabwe international goalkeeper. The 26-year-old ‘keeper, who was crowned the best player plying his trade on the domestic front last year, told The Herald this week that two clubs in Greece and one in Cyprus are keen to engage him.
Arubi had to cut short his holiday during the festive season to travel to Harare after being summoned by an agent who advised him there was considerable interest from the three undisclosed European clubs for his services. “A lot has been happening during this off-season and I have just been advised that there are clubs in Greece and Cyprus that have been closely monitoring my performance and now want to talk to me,” said Arubi.
“There is an agent who is handling the case and he believes it is not right for us to name the clubs at this point because there is still a lot of ground that needs to be covered. But what I can say is that there is a real possibility that I could be traveling to Greece and, if it doesn’t work out there, then I could also be heading to Cyprus because there is a club there that also wants to closely assess me.
“I guess my performance in the last season has attracted a lot of foreign clubs but I’m not in any way desperate for a move because I have always felt that there is a time for everything and my time will come one day.” Arubi was the standout player for Dynamos in a largely successful season for the Glamour Boys in which his dominant and inspirational show, as the last line of a mean defence that gave very little away, caught the eye of both allies and foes alike.
Leading from the back, with a level of both maturity and excellence last seen from a Dynamos goalkeeper in the heydays of the legendary Japhet “Short Cat” Mparutsa, Arubi became the pillar on which the Glamour Boys drew their strength en-route to writing a beautiful success story. Predictably, he followed in Mparutsa’s golden footsteps as he turned back the hands of time to become the first Dynamos ‘keeper, since ’82 when the “Short Cat” was crowned Soccer Star of the Year, to win the coveted Player of the Year award.
Elbowed out of the race for the same award in controversial fashion in 2010, when he had been set to win it, for allegedly breaking the rules in a stormy BancABC Sup8r Cup semi-final at Barbourfields with a finger gesture to the fans, Arubi won it by a mile last year. While few African goalkeepers have made it into Europe, something which continues to puzzle many experts of the game on the continent, Arubi is fancying his chances of a breakthrough but insists that he is not desperate for a move.
“I’m enjoying my football right now and the past season was good for me personally and for my team because we were successful in a number of ways and that’s what you play the game for,” said Arubi. “I’m not desperate for a move but I have always been a guy who is open in anything that I do and I feel I should always keep the fans, who have been good to me, aware of developments that would be happening in my career so that, if anything happens, it won’t come as a shock to them.
“Obviously, I’m ready for a fresh challenge at a higher level but let’s wait and see how it all develops.” Arubi has been included in the Dynamos squad for the 2012 Champions League campaign and the goalkeeper revealed that while the Glamour Boys will always be his home, given the special bond that has developed between him and the club in the past two years, he was yet to open discussions with the team for a new deal.
“My contract with Dynamos ended on December 31, 2011 and I have not been offered a new deal and I have not discussed with the club’s executive about a new deal,” said Arubi. I know they have included me in the squad for the Champions League but we haven’t tied a deal and we haven’t discussed it. But the doors will always be open and right now I revert to being a Highfield United player because I have a contract with the team and I was at Dynamos on a year’s loan deal.
“There are issues that I also need to sort out with Highfield United regarding my contract and, hopefully, by the end of it all everything will be sorted out smoothly and we will see how it goes.” Arubi was one of the three high-profile Dynamos players who moved to Highfield United at the beginning of last year with Benjamin Marere and Murape Murape also crossing the floor into the stable of the ambitious Division One side.
Marere was loaned to FC Platinum while Arubi and Murape felt that their heart was still at Dynamos and went on to play big roles as the Glamour Boys outlasted the Zvishavane miners to win the league championship. Arubi said he didn’t want to reveal the challenges facing his contract with Highfield United but said the Division One club’s management were fully ware of one big contractual obligation that was yet to be fulfilled.
“I don’t want to discuss personal issues in the newspapers because that can easily be read wrongly by other people but the guys whom I signed a three-year deal with know what I need to be sorted out,” said Arubi. The Zimbabwe international ‘keeper, who traveled with the Warriors to Botswana for an international friendly set for tomorrow, had unsuccessful trials with Super Diski club Amazulu two years ago.
But his stock has risen significantly in the past year and a move to Greece will see him following in the footsteps of Kennedy Nagoli who spent six years in that country playing for Aris Salonika and PAS Gianneria between 1997 and 2003. Nagoli, a brilliant midfielder during his time, even played for Pele’s Brazilian club Santos between 1995 and 1996 after impressing the legendary footballer during his visit to South Africa.
Cypriot football has been making steady progress and this season Apoel Nicosia became the first club from the Mediterranean island to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Apoel, formed in a sweet shop 85 years ago, succeeded where the two Manchester giants – United and City – failed by making the last 16 of this season’s Champions League. In a very good season for Cypriot club football, AEK Lanarca, the last club that Nagoli played for there before returning home to begin a coaching career that has taken him to CAPS United where he is assistant coach, also qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa Cup.
Zimbabwe internationals Noel Kaseke (Omonia Nikosia) and Obadiah Tarumbwa (Enois Neon Paralimni) are based in Cyprus while Thabani Moyo, Zenzo Moyo and Shingi Kawondera have all played club football on the island in the past. Kaseke won the Cypriot championship with Omonia during the 2009/2010 season.