By Don Makanyanga
After being written off by many coaches and clubs, talented midfielder Denver Mukamba is living the proverbial nine lives of a cat after finding a new home at Chapungu.
He is now working on reviving his career.
Mukamba, who still has a special bond with Dynamos fans even though he also briefly turned out for their bitter rivals CAPS United, has somehow found a way to shake off the bad boy tag that had stalked him due to his lifestyle off the pitch.
The footballer was said to be going through some social problems related to drug abuse and truancy.
When efforts were made to help the lanky midfielder, including calling in pastors and prophets to give him wise counsel, it did not yield any fruits.
A cleansing ceremony was organised by a local church.
However, the diminutive midfielder dribbled past it and absconded the function in 2017.
Lloyd Mutasa, a man that Mukamba called his father and the one who had given him his Premiership debut, tried his best to rescue the midfielder.
But, like many other coaches before and after him, Mutasa eventually gave up on Mukamba.
Last year, Mukamba was offloaded mid-season by the Glamour Boys as his bad-boy tendencies worsened. However, during that tumultuous episode, his talent shone through.
Everyone was in agreement that he was talented and in urgent need of proper guidance.
On the pitch, he has always been an absolute beast. He possesses pure talent that is rivalled by very few.
When it appeared as if Mukamba had seen the light, CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe was drawn to him by his immense talent and took him on board.
However, Mukamba’s stint at CAPS United did not last long as he went AWOL before the season had ended.
He went for seven months with his whereabouts unknown, amid reports that he had enrolled into rehabilitation.
Mukamba then returned to the top-flight in style, this time in the Chapungu colours.
This was after one coach as well as the Young Warriors’ most successful coach – Rodwell Dhlakama – offered him an olive branch.
Gibson Mahachi, the man who probably knows Mukamba best and has been his manager for the past seven years, believes that the midfielder entrusted with the Warriors armband in 2012 by former national coach Klaus Dieter Pagels is a changed man.
“I have been with Mukamba for seven years. As his manager, I had to hold on to him. I could not leave him, he needed someone to give him hope and most importantly someone who could knock some sense into his head.
“I spent a lot of time with him and during that time, we spoke about a lot of things, including the lifestyle that had led him to become wild and the price that he was now paying for his behaviour.
“After some months, he began to appreciate the counselling and understand where I was coming from.
“He said to me, ‘Mudhara, I have learnt my lessons and I am now different, give me another chance’,” said Mahachi.
Getting Mukamba another job was Mahachi’s next and biggest problem.
“There was a time when every coach was fed up with Denver, no one wanted him.
“You can’t really blame them, the boy brought this upon himself with his past issues and awkward behaviour.
“When he joined Chapungu, that was the turning point. We hope and pray that he stays on the right path,” said Mahachi.
On July 27, Mukamba rose from the bench to net in an equaliser 20 minutes from time when Chapungu played against Manica Diamonds at Ascot Stadium.
Since that fine day, the 27-year-old midfielder has never looked back, making seven assists and scoring three goals in 11 matches.
He has left Dhlakama confident that he will soon be recalled to the Warriors.
“I never regarded Denver as an outcast. As a leader you need to set an example and be proactive with disciplinary problems. Players need coaches who are firm, fair and consistent. That is how you earn the respect of these youngsters.
“It was very easy to accept him because he is one of the first crop of players I worked with in the junior national teams at the Under 17 and Under 20 levels,” Dhlakama said.
Dhlakama revealed that before signing Mukamba, he held a one-on-one talk with the 2012 Castle Soccer Star of the Year.
He emphasised the need for discipline.
“I always have positive perceptions when it comes to critical issues.
“I just told him that we need to work and that I was not going to treat him with kid gloves,” Dhlakama revealed.
Denver being Denver, he never said much during the conversation.
He is said to have promised Dhlakama that he would not disappoint him.
True to his word, he hasn’t disappointed his coach.
“Denver’s talent is unquestionable, he is a rare breed.
“ln the next few months, he will be in the national team again. The national team is not for mediocrity, it is for talented players and Denver is a match winner. He scored on his debut and also went on to help the team on several occasions,” said Dhlakama.
While Dhlakama has since joined Ngezi, his successor at Chapungu, Thomas Chinyan’anya, also lauded Mukamba and acknowledged the player’s impact on the airmen.
“We have heard stories of what he did at Dynamos and CAPS United, but the guy we have at Chapungu is a totally different Denver.
“Ever since Denver joined us in July, he has been very hardworking and disciplined. He has never missed any training session and is always on time. I do not have any complaints against him.
“He is doing very well and has gelled well into the team. lt is unfortunate that we have not been getting the goals. However, we have improved as a team,” said Chinyan’anya. Sunday Mail