By Lovemore Dube
FORMER Warriors captain Benjani Mwaruwari is contemplating getting his Uefa coaching badges after 20 years of professional football that has brought him fame and fortune.
The Undertaker, as he is affectionately known, retired from competitive football at the end of the South African Absa Premiership season in May after turning out for Bidvest Wits.
In an exclusive interview with Chronicle Sports in Bulawayo on Monday, Mwaruwari said he felt he still had a lot to give to the game of football and would love to go into coaching or management one day.
The former Auxerre, Portsmouth and Manchester City player, who was in the city for a short holiday from his Johannesburg base, said he was looking forward to life outside the pitch.
“I don’t know as yet what I am going to do. When you are still young and playing, you wish you will some day retire. But when you are close to retiring you wish you could carry on playing,” said the Zimbabwean legend who spent close to a decade in topflight leagues in Switzerland, France and the United Kingdom.
“For over 20 years, it has been football, football and nothing else for me. I had to make a decision and that was one of quitting and seeking new challenges. My only job has been football and I think going to school will be a priority as I fancy some day breaking into coaching,” said the former Mhali Primary School and Magwegwe Secondary School pupil who was a good sprinter in his formative years in sport.
Mwaruwari said he was contemplating two options. One is to do the Uefa B Licence at Manchester City and the other perhaps through the England Football Association.
“I will be going to the UK soon, and since I am a former player at Manchester City, I hope they will accept me in the Uefa B Licence programme. I have to secure a coaching qualification just in case some day there is a job for,” said the former combative forward.
Mwaruwari described Chelsea captain John Terry as his toughest opponent who used to give him a torrid time.
“You know my type of play and his. He used to come hard on me. I would say he was my most difficult opponent and of the guys I played with Fadiga who I was with at Auxerre was the funniest. He always cracked jokes and was nice to have around.
“I played alongside great players like Emmanuel Adebayor, Kanu, Vincent Kompany, eish the list is too long man,” he said.
Mwaruwari, who flew back to his South African home on Monday, paid tribute to former junior football coaching great Ali “Baba” Dube and the man credited with his first big break in Europe, South African legend Jomo Sono.
From the dusty patches of Old Magwegwe suburb, Mwaruwari rose to be one of the country’s leading footballers playing at the highest level with some of the world’s biggest names.
“I could not have been the player I got to be. Looking back at Dube inviting me to come and join Highlanders from a club in Old Magwegwe, that was the turning point in my career. I learnt so much about the game. He had his own ways of bringing the best out of his players.
“It’s no small wonder that guys like Mkhuphali Masuku, Thulani “Biya” Ncube, Melusi Ndebele, Sijabuliso Moyo, Oswald Sibanda, Master Masiku, Gift Lunga Jnr and Mpumelelo Bitu made it in the game from the squad I played with,” he said.
Mwaruwari said a number of people helped shape his career but of the group, Dube and Sono had impacted more on what he went on to be in life and in the game.
From Highlanders Mwaruwari moved to Chegutu where he played for Lulu Rovers before joining University of Zimbabwe and later Air Zimbabwe.
In 1997 he had signed for AmaZulu owned by Delma Lupepe but had to refund the club the signing on fee when former President of Zimbabwe Canaan Banana insisted on the young player moving to Harare. That was to be Mwaruwari’s rise to international recognition.
He had been the star of a tournament sponsored by the late Nhamo Rusamo and organised by Madodana Horsepower Tshabangu at Ross Camp.
“Jomo Sono took me from Harare to his club Cosmos and the rest is history as I soon moved to Europe through his guidance and tutelage. I owe these two gentlemen a lot for what they did for me. I am not disrespecting the other people I worked with but I believe the two had a bigger say in what I became in football,” said the former Manchester City forward. Chronicle