By Nigel Matongorere
One of Zimbabwe’s most celebrated footballers of all time, George Shaya’s life story will be immortalised in a new documentary film that is currently in production.
Shaya, 72, is a founding member of Dynamos and is one of the reasons the club has such an illustrious history.
Up until this day, he holds the record for being crowned Soccer Star of the Year on five occasions.
He first won the inaugural award in 1969 before going onto claim the title in 1972 and on three consecutive occasions in 1975, 1976 and 1977.
No other Zimbabwean footballer has been able to achieve this feat since the awards were commenced in 1969.
The legendary Peter Ndlovu (1990 and 1991) and the late Stanley “Sinyo” Ndunduma (1981 and 1985) came close but they could not emulate Shaya.
Former FC Platinum forward Rodwell Chinyengetere has won the award twice in 2017 and 2018 but the jury is still out on him to see whether he can be mentioned in the same breath as Shaya.
Born in Harare in 1946, Shaya perfected his football skills at St Paul’s Mission in Murewa and was one of the pioneers that formed Dynamos in 1963 together with Sam Dauya, Richard Chiminya, Morrison Sifelani, Jairos Banda, Patrick Dzvene, Bernard Marriot and Josiah Akende.
With a football career spanning over 17 years, he went onto to establish himself as one of the true legends of local football.
However, Shaya’s exploits on the field are not well-documented as he played during the Rhodesia era before independence in 1980.
With Rhodesia under global sanctions after the then Prime Minster Ian Smith declared unilateral independence from British rule in 1965, Shaya’s international career was also curtailed as he was restricted to a handful of caps.
Singapore-based Zimbabwean film producer Albert Chiwandanira is now working meticulously with Martin Changachirere, a close Shaya family friend, to produce the documentary.
“So far we have done a lot of interviews with relevant people who played with or against mdhara Shaya,” Changachirere told the Daily News.
“I think we are going to release the documentary in the next month or two; we have also had to go to the National Archives to look for footage and other materiel of when Shaya was still playing.
“People know the fame Shaya achieved during his playing days but they don’t the story behind that fame; how he went about his business and what he had to overcome to become such a great footballer.”
Although he is Zimbabwe’s greatest footballers of all time, Shaya did not get large monetary rewards.
At the moment, the former Dynamos winger is suffering from dementia and arthritis.
At times he has had to rely on well-wishers to get medical attention while the game that he helped to establish often ignores his cries for help.
“We want to unlock the brand that is Shaya because we have seen that it is a big problem when have to rely on well-wishers for his medical expenses and other costs,” Changachirere said.
“Our hope is that this documentary will help us achieve this goal so that we can create revenue streams for … Shaya.
“His story is very inspiring not only to upcoming footballers but any sports person that aspire to reach the top.”
In one of the clips shown to the Daily News by the documentary’s producers, former Dynamos defender and coach Sunday Chidzambwa spoke fondly about Shaya’s exploits on the field and the role he played as a unifier.
“Whenever he got the ball on his feet, he was always going to score without losing possession at all,” the current Warriors coach said.
“He was someone who knew football quite well and every time he got the ball onto his feet, the crowd would stand up in anticipation of what was about to occur.”
Former Dynamos midfielder and coach David “Yogurt” Mandigora described Shaya as a rare talent in the clip.
“He was something special because I remember when I was still young and I would go to watch him play,” Mandigora said.
“To show how good he was, the Dynamos coaches would allow Shaya to rest on his knees on the pitch without substituting him.
“You know Dynamos fans are very impatient but they would allow him to rest on the pitch. When he would finally get up to start playing, he would produce some amazing skills.” DailyNews