By Eddie Chikamhi
Former Warriors defender Costa Nhamoinesu has been hailed as a great professional by one of the Czech Republic’s finest footballers of all-time.
The Zimbabwean is leaving Sparta Prague after a seven-year stint at the club.
Club legend Tomáš Rosicky, who played for Arsenal, Borrusia Dortmund and captained the Czech Republic for 10 years, has hailed Nhamoinesu.
“Costa was a great professional for the whole time at Sparta. He became a real Spartan!” Rosicky told the club’s website.
Nhamoinesu joined Sparta in 2013 from Polish side Zaglebie Lubin.
He won a league championship in his debut season and crowned it with the Czech Cup and the Czech Super Cup in 2014.
He also lifted the 2020 Czech Cup recently.
“It’s difficult for me to talk about leaving Sparta because this is a club that I had developed a special relationship with,’’ said Nhamoinesu.
“You know, if you spend seven years at one place, it becomes special and Sparta had become a home for me.
“The fans, they created a home, they made it a home for me and that’s most important for me, to feel at home.
“I developed a special relationship with the players, the management and all the coaches that I have worked with and that’s special and valuable for me.
“It’s a period that I have to leave but that’s life. We meet to part and we part to meet.”
The former AmaZulu and Masvingo United man will be remembered as the first African to wear the captain’s armband at Sparta.
Among his career highs were reaching the Europa League quarter-finals and featuring regularly in the Champions League.
Nhamoinesu was last week honoured for breaking club records by becoming the first foreign player to reach a career milestone of 200 caps.
“I came here from the ghetto and, in the ghetto, it’s all about fighting. So, the ghetto taught me to fight for life, to fight for what I do.
“But, when I came to Sparta, there was an addition to that. Sparta gave me an addition to that fight because Sparta is an ambitious club.
“They want to play for titles, they want to play for cups every season. It doesn’t matter you finish fourth or fifth but the next season the aim is we play for title, we play for cups.
“It’s important for me that Sparta have installed that mentality in me that you have to fight always for higher level.
“These are the qualities that I can use outside football. Apart from the trophies, and the football we played, I am happy that Sparta taught me something outside football,” said Nhamoinesu.
The defender has been a vital cog in Sparta’s set-up but, of late, injuries have been troubling him.
He played a little part in the campaign this year.
Nhamoinesu is a proud holder of a Masters Diploma in Sports Management obtained from the Johaan Cruyff Institute and hopes to use that knowledge to transform the lives of talented footballers back home.
“I wrote a business plan about my master thesis, which is something between sports academy and sports agency,’’ he said.
“So, it’s something to help the youths in Africa back in Africa, Zimbabwe, in the ghetto because these youths are talented but few of them play at a high level.
“They need to be taught about professional football, the demands, and what you have to do to achieve success because it’s not only about talent.
“That is the business plan that I wrote about. So, I think that it’s a great initiative and I hope that, especially Sparta, which is a big club here, will help me with this future plan.
“I think other sponsors, investors or people who are interested in grooming and building talent in the ghetto, I think with help from such people, it could be a good project.
“That’s the plan that I have for the future of football.’’
He says he still wants to keep playing.
“But, the important thing is I stayed healthy, I feel fit, I feel strong, I feel I can push more. It’s a pity that I finish here, which not what I really wanted.
“I am a professional and I accept the situation. Hopefully I will get some team to play for because I would still like to continue playing.’ The Herald