By Robson Sharuko
VITALIS “Digital” Takawira, a key member of Reinhard Fabisch’s immortal Dream Team, yesterday said Adam Ndlovu’s untimely and tragic death hit him so hard it induced a state of shock from which he has been struggling to recover all week.
The former Zimbabwe international, who is now based in the United States, was part of the Dream Team strikeforce whose principal figures included Adam, and Peter Ndlovu, Agent Sawu, Rahman Gumbo and Henry McKop.
Takawira made his name at Dynamos before venturing into the American Major Soccer League where he played for Kansas City Wiz and has been involved in developing junior football talent in the United States since his retirement.
He teamed up with the Ndlovu brothers from his first game in the Warriors, when Fabisch thrust him into the deep end, by giving him a place in the starting XI in the ’94 Nations Cup qualifier against South Africa at the National Sports Stadium on August 16, ’92.
Takawira repaid his coach’s faith by opening the scoring in the seventh minute, Rahman added a second 13 minutes later before Peter took over the show by scoring twice in the second half, including a magical goal where he slalomed past the entire Bafana Bafana defence, in a comprehensive 4-1 victory for the Warriors.
That game laid the foundation for a solid and fruitful partnership which would later spill out of the football field and turn Takawira and the Ndlovu brothers into very close friends.
Adam died on Sunday morning after a car crash, near the Victoria Falls International Airport, while Peter escaped with his life and has been receiving specialist medical attention at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo where his condition continues to improve.
Adam is set to be buried at Lady Stanley cemetery in the City of Kings tomorrow.
Takawira, speaking from his base in the United States, said Adam’s death had robbed him of a true friend.
“I don’t have words to describe this, I am still in shock and although I am miles away from home I have really felt the full impact of the pain in the wake of Adam’s death,” Takawira said.
“I just wanna send my condolences go to the Ndlovu family. I pray that the guardian angles watch over Peter and I wish him a speedy recovery. These are, indeed, very hard times for the Ndlovu family but I want to urge them to remain strong and to assure them that we are together with them in these very hard times.”
Takawira said the Dream Team evolved from being just a national football team into a special family, which had very close links, and losing a member of that team was always a huge blow to those who were part of that group.
Fabisch, the German coach who built the Dream Team, is also late after losing his battle against cancer. “What people don’t know is that during the Dream Team, Fabisch brought all the players together and we bonded together as one family,” said Takawira.
“He (Adam) was a true friend and the world will miss him. Rest in peace Adamski and may God bless the Ndlovu family in these trying times.”
Takawira, who retired from football in 2004, the year the Warriors featured in their first Nations Cup finals with Peter Ndlovu captaining the team, said his debut goal for the team will always have a special place in his heart.
His memorable match, of course, was the day he struck a superb hattrick as Zimbabwe destroyed Cameroon 4-1 at the National Sports Stadium in a ’96 Nations Cup qualifier on January 22 ’95.
Takawira struck in the 12th, 50th and 88th minutes with the other goal coming from defender Paul Gundani in the 47th minute. He told the Soccer Insiders website that it was his proudest moment in football because Cameroon were giants in the game.
Zimbabwe’s quest to qualify for the ’96 Nations Cup finals would be, to a large extent, determined in the boardroom after Lesotho’s decision not to tour the DRC following an outbreak of the Ebola virus resulted in them being kicked out of the campaign and all their results nullified.
The Warriors were the biggest losers after having beaten Lesotho home and away, including a 5-0 victory in Harare, where Takawira scored twice in the 83rd and 89th minute while Adam Ndlovu was also on target in the 51st minute.
Kennedy Nagoli and Francis Shonhayi scored the other goals. Lesotho had brewed a shocker, by beating Cameroon 2-0 in Maseru, and the nullification of all their results dealt a huge blow to Zimbabwe and favoured teams like the Indomitable Lions.
Adam scored another goal, during that campaign, when Zimbabwe beat DRC 2-1 at the National Sports Stadium, pushing the Warriors into the lead in the 52nd minute before Peter converted a last-gasp penalty for the winner after the visitors had earlier equalised. The Herald