By Don Makanyanga
It would have been the year George “Mastermind” Shaya celebrated his Diamond Jubilee by turning 75 on October 30.
But, sadly, he will not be around when a documentary on the legendary former Dynamos winger comes to town.
Shaya died in Harare on August 24.
However, producers of the documentary on the five-time Soccer Star of the Year are going ahead with plans to honour him with its premiere on October 30 — the day he would have turned 75.
Shaya’s peers, who would have made the guest list, have also passed away in months leading to the release of the documentary, which chronicles the footballer’s life and his stint in administration.
The executive producer, Albert Chawandamira, told The Sunday Mail Sport that following Shaya’s death last month, they had decided to honour the football legend’s memory by releasing the production on his birthday.
“I was deeply saddened with the passing on of George Shaya last month. Everything was going according to plan; he had viewed the draft,” he said.
“We had set October 30 as the date we première to coincide with his birthday, as we wanted to celebrate his life, hence we have stuck with October 30 date to celebrate his life of greatness.
“It will be sad without him there.”
The one hour 15 minutes’ documentary is titled “The Mastermind’’.
Those featured — administrators, former teammates and former rivals — are unanimous on how phenomenal he was as a player.
It also touches on his stint in administration, during which he led Dynamos to the 1998 CAF Champions League final as club chairperson.
The documentary starts with Shaya sitting with his long-time friend and former teammate David George, with a constellation of trophies in front of them.
Shaya is then asked which trophy he considered to be the best.
“That is a very difficult question to answer, they are all my best trophies because I have memories for each and every one of them,” he replies. Former Warriors, Highlanders and Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar describes the late Shaya as an icon of African football.
“It is an honour and privilege for me to talk about Shaya. He is an icon in African football, because in his time he could have been probably the best player in Southern Africa during his time,” he said.
Some of the major highlights are on Shaya’s time with South African side Moroka Swallows, where he inspired them to their first trophy.
“Everyone was expecting Kaizer Chiefs to wallop Moroka Swallows…They came into the match leading from the first leg.
“They (Kaizer Chiefs) had Jairzinho (the 1970 Brazilian World Cup star), and no one expected that anyone can come close to him (Jairzinho), but unfortunately they forgot that we also had our own internationals in the likes of George Shaya and Ernest Kamba,” said Sipho Xulu, Swallows chief executive.
“The game was the ‘Thriller in Manila of South Africa’ because everybody expected the game to go the other way (a win for Kaizer Chiefs). George Shaya played very well, and it is one game he showed us how capable he was.”
Albert Risimati, a Swallows supporter who watched the game, added: “George Shaya completely outshone Jarzinho. Moroka Swallows had never won any silverware, he (Shaya) created two goals for Moroka Swallows and for the very first time, Swallows won a trophy.”
There is consensus among the interviewees that the player could probably be considered to have been cut from the same cloth as Argentine greats Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi.
Not only was he a mastermind on the field of play, but he was good at administration.
“I was not so much into playing soccer myself, but I was mainly into football administration. George always proffered solutions to challenging situations,” said former Dynamos treasurer Lloyd Hove.
Journalist Lovemore Dube, who is part of the production team, described the legend’s film as long overdue.
“It’s been long overdue. When I was approached to assist by Bluff Football, I did not hesitate. I have over the past 25 years been reaching out to yesteryear greats. Reliving memories of a great past on the court, field, pitch and track.
“George Shaya, John Love, Artwell Mandaza are among dozens of our iconic sporting heroes that we have not celebrated to the fullest.
“Sadly, Shaya was two months away from this piece of celebration of his football genius when he died,” said Dube.
For Chawandamira, the documentary will allow people to get a closer appreciation of the former football great.
“They are going to see a man that inspired a nation during a dark period in our nation’s history.
“In a nutshell, they are going to see an outstanding human being and a great citizen of Zimbabwe.
“A man who overcame great odds to become the greatest footballer in this country.” The Sunday Mail