By Langton Nyakwenda
Perhaps it explains how good he was. Or it was a reflection of a skewed voting system of an annual poll that has perennially sparked debate since its inception in 1969.
But, Zimbabwe football history has recorded that Masimba Dinyero was crowned Soccer Star of the Year in 1989. And he is the only Soccer Star of the Year who took the award to Division One after his club Black Mambas were relegated from the top-flight at the end of that season.
So good was Dinyero that Dynamos would temporarily request his services during the 1990 African Champions League tournament.
“Yes, I would play for Black Mambas in Division One and then play for DeMbare in the continental club competition,” Dinyero told The Sunday Mail Sport.
Now 55, Dinyero, like many other former footballers, is now into coaching and is employed by Eastern Region Division One side Green Fuel.
Although he still craves to become a successful coach and follow in the footsteps of long-time friend and former teammate, Kalisto Pasuwa, Dinyero however, still cherishes that night in 1989 when he was knighted as king of Zimbabwean football.
He pipped hotshot and favourite Stanford “Stix” Mtizwa, who had dazzled for Black Rhinos, in what has also remained as one of the most controversial selection outcomes in the history of the Soccer Star of the Year award.
It was the 10th consecutive time Mtizwa was appearing on the Soccer Stars’ calendar.
“I played my heart out that season. I was deadly from the midfield, so I guess I also deserved the special award.
“The sad part of that chapter was that my team Black Mambas got relegated at the end of that season.
“But I didn’t leave Mambas; I went down with my club. The good thing is we fought our way back into the top-flight league.
“Black Mambas made me who I am today. Perhaps it was just fate that I would win the Soccer Star of the Year award in a season my team was relegated.”
Mambas are on a revival path and are back in the lower leagues after being relegated from the Premiership in 2013.
“In football, there are ups and downs. I wish them all the best but for now, I am concentrating on my task as Green Fuel head coach, hoping that we also get promoted when football returns,” he said.
Dinyero was born in Shurugwi, but grew up in Mbare, where he was introduced to football at an early age by former Dynamos juniors’ coach Daniel “Dhidhidhi” Ncube.
“Those days we used to play chikweshe (a ball made of plastic) all day and we did not even have time to eat.
“I was a beneficiary of the sound junior development system that existed back then. Daniel Ncube took me to Dynamos juniors and that’s how I started.
“Sadly, we no longer have junior leagues.
“Most teams are relying on buying players; they are no longer producing.”
He grew up at Mbare Police Camp, where his late father, John, was the head chef.
“My father is now late but he is the one who encouraged me to play football.
“At times he would give me bus fare to attend training sessions.
“I then joined the police force in 1985. I didn’t want to be a policeman but I was forced to because Black Mambas were after my services.
“I had to resign from my job as a salesperson with Blue Ribbon to join the police force,” he said.
Nicknamed “Member-In-Charge” during his heyday, Dinyero served the police for 26 years, rising from a constable to inspector, before retiring in 2010.
The pinnacle of his playing career was in 1998, when he reached the CAF Champions League with Dynamos.
He is part of that special class of players — the only ones from Zimbabwe — to play in a Champions League final.
Memory Mucherahowa, Ernest Chirambadare, Gift Muzadzi, George Owusu, Makwinji Soma Phiri, Vint Fulawo, Ernest Chigama, Lloyd Mutasa, Desmond Maringwa, and Pasuwa were part of that squad.
DeMbare lost 4-2 on aggregate against ASEC Mimosa of Cote d’Ivoire, albeit in controversial circumstances.
Four years earlier, Dinyero had also played in the CAF Cup Winners Cup semi-final with Blackpool.
“Those are great achievements, my man.
“There is no other team that has reached the CAF Champions League final since 1998.
“I am proud of it.”
A lot has been said about the relationship between Dinyero and his former teammate Pasuwa, amid reports that it has soured.
The duo not only partnered at Dynamos, but embarked on the coaching journey together, with stints at Sporting Lions, Highway, and Kiglon before Pasuwa transformed himself into one of the best coaches in the local league.
While Pasuwa went on to win four straight league titles with DeMbare between 2011 and 2014, before leading the Warriors to the 2016 CHAN and the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, Dinyero has not been that fortunate.
Pasuwa is now based in Malawi, where he is in charge of champions Nyasa Big Bullets.
“Kalisto (Pasuwa) is my young brother,” said Dinyero.
“Whatever help he needs from me I am always available. And he does the same.
“We come a long way with my brother Pasuwa, despite what people might want to say. I am proud of him.
“We played together, worked together, and also played against each other.” The Sunday Mail