I had a discussion with former Caps United and Blackpool right back Darlington ” Chola ” Choto on all matters football related. It was rich discussion and he said something that captured my attention.
He talked about Abraham Senda, not so much about his football talents but about how he always liked to look smart. ” When i was called for the under 20 National team , my roommate was Abraham Senda, i enjoyed his company. But man, did the boy love a bath ! Once he got into the shower, you had to be patient. He used to take his time to spruce himself, he was indeed Mr. Smart !” said Choto with a chuckle.
Abraham Senda was a Highlanders junior player who played for the highly rated Liverpool team, a nickname given to those talented ” Bosso ” youngsters. He later crossed the floor to join Zimbabwe Saints before joining Ziscosteel . There he played with another great product of the Bosso juniors, Ronnie ” Jeans ” Jowa. They were great players but unfortunately they are both late.
But today, let me use Abraham Senda as a starting point of our discussion, the smart, well groomed legends who graced our football fields. Those legends who paid a lot attention to the way they looked. They are many but i will pick just a few.
Here is my list.
- Shaw ” Kojak ” Handriade- Most Mbareans, the residents of the oldest suburb in Harare have always been fashion conscious. Midfield kingpin, Shaw was no exception and his reputation for being well groomed is legendary. ” He was always clean shaven and it was not amiss to see him wearing the popular six button jackets on match day !” said legend Japhet Mparutsa in a discussion. Yes the nickname captured that clean shaved head, the suits and well polished shoes completed the look. ” On the pitch , it was always socks up, shirt tucked in and yes even the tackles were smart, he never went for crude tackles, that was Bla Shaw for you!” added Bla Japhe. The bouncy step also revealed the confidence of a man who knew how well groomed he was.
- Steve ” Biko ” Phiri- on and off the pitch, the former Dynamos right back was always smart. Again Legend Japhet Mparutsa expressed his admiration of this player. ” He was well groomed and he cared so much how he looked on the pitch . Off it, he was also fashion conscious!” said the former shot stopper.
- David Zulu -known as a midfield workhorse and renowned for his thunderous shots , the man was one of the best dressed and well groomed to grace our football . Mukoma Francis Nechironga who played with Zulu at Arcadia United said ” You knew Zulu had arrived because of the whiff of expensive perfume which invaded the dressing room ” he said. ” Even as he jogged onto the field, he always sprayed some perfume. Socks up and shirt tucked in were his trademark. Zulu was truly Mr. Smart ” added the legend. That reminded me a bit about David Ginola who according to his captain at Aston Villa Dion Dublin loved manicuring before a match, but let me stay on track.
- Joel ” Jubilee ” Shambo- He was smart on and off the pitch. With his well combed afro hair, , socks neatly rolled to the ankles, later he did socks up, shirt tucked in, Shambo was the epitome of professionalism. Off the pitch the former Caps United long serving captain was a fashion icon. After every match at Gwanzura Stadium , we used wait just to watch the players depart to their homes. Shambo was one legend who always impressed us with the way he looked and dressed.
- Eddie Matsika- “He always had an Afro comb ready to take care of his neat afro hair, Eddie was always smart!” said my partner in the discussion, Darlington Choto. On the pitch for Eddie it was socks up and shirt tucked in.
- Cephas Chimedza- ” Looking smart on the pitch is important, it gives you confidence !” said the man with the unique nickname ” Mai Chisamba”. I can attest to this, i have seen many pictures of the legend, socks up and jersey tucked in were his trademark. Interestingly, he also showed me his childhood pictures. The trademark tucked in shirt and socks up were evident even at primary school. ” My father was a policeman and looking smart was expected of us , it was inculcated in us from a young age ” he added. The legend even plaited his hair at some point, it reflected how he cared about his looks.
- Ernest Mutano – The man we all knew as ” Mr. Cool ” was cool on and off the pitch. Blessed with good looks , the legend always looked smart even in the thick of action. Whenever he used his head to clear the ball, Mr. Cool would pat his long afro hair as if to assure himself that it was still looking neat. Off the pitch, he was a fashion icon as well.
- Japhet ” Shortcat ” Mparutsa- The legend believed in looking smart on the pitch. Socks up and tucked in jersey were also his trademark. I have also interacted with him off the field, he likes to look smart . ” Even if you are going out for a short walk, be smart because you never know who you will meet. It is not good to leave an impression of shabbiness, appearances are not everything, but they matter ! ” said the legend.
9.David ” Chikwama ” Mwanza- the smart legend even went to the extent of perming his hair. Young readers might not get it but back in the days the afro was in vogue, for an upgrade, one would go for a perm. Many football stars opted for this especially in South Africa. Players like Max ” Go man Go ” Maponyane and Ernest “Wire ” Chirwali in the South Africa League had permed hair. In the Zimbabwe football fraternity we had ” Chikwama ” . A man who perms his hair obviously cares a lot about his looks. Chikwama therefore joins my list of smart legends.
- Thulani ” Biya ” Ncube- The one gloved one, the legend was always smart. His blonde hair , tucked in shirt and socks up completed the part. When the rules still permitted he also wore some ear studs. To date , he still wears these although the blonde hair is now gone. Mr. Smart, yes that is a title that he can rightly win.
- Frank ” Dealer ” Nyamukuta- he carried one of the biggest kit bags ever seen in the Zimbabwe football fraternity. Asked about this, the legend had this to say ” It contained all my stuff, perfumes, shavers and and spare briefs !” he said with a chuckle. Well the legend prides himself as being of the ” Mbizi totem” and the ” Mbizi clan” have a reputation for being smart. I have met the legend, he is always well groomed and his sense of fashion is exceptional. He is a fashionista of note.
12.Esrom ” Yellow” Nyandoro- I am not sure about his dress code off the pitch but on the pitch he was always smart. He joins my list of those legends who can be called ” masters of the tuck in.”
- Alois Bunjira-On and off the pitch , the ebullient legend had and still has a reputation for being smart. Off the pitch, he is not shy to flaunt it, ” Iri kunzwika here perfume /can you smell the perfume ? ” he captions most posts of his smart self on his facebook page. He is confident of how he looks and his sense of fashion enhances that.
- Lloyd “Samaita” Mutasa-Always smart on the pitch but it is his legendary suits as a coach which set him apart. Mutasa looked like he was modelling suits on the bench. This reflected his professional approach to the game. The other coaches who impressed me with his professional attire on the bench are Kelvin Kaiundu during his stint with Highlanders Football Club and most recently Tonderai Ndiraya. For Ndiraya of Dynamos , the three piece suit is a trademark.
- Derby Makinka- Football genius who looked professional on the pitch. With his socks up, shirt tucked in and the trademark neat boxer hair cut, Derby was a model professional. Off the pitch he dressed smart as most Zambians often do, their sense of fashion is legendary.
- There are many others legends who looked smart on and off the pitch. Legends such as Alexander ” Cool Ruler ” Maseko, the late Titus Majola, Rahman ” Rush ” Gumbo, the clean shaven Sebastine ” Kojak ” Chikwature, Lucky Dube and Elvis Chiweshe (these two modelled for Sales House ) were among those with this great reputation. In the current Warriors set up Khama Billiat is a renowned fashionista too. Some fans even criticise him for caring too much about how he looks just like his idol Ronaldo , the man he models his goal celebration after.
- It will be amiss not to mention one of my early football hero, Weston ” Sekuru Jibha ” Mvembe. He was my senior at high school. One day our school St. Peters Kubatana received a brand new football kit courtesy of Father Davies, the Principal. The good priest loved his football and always bought expensive playing kits for the team. More about that in a separate articl
Weston was excited but some of his teammates were not wearing the kit to his expected high standards. He demanded that they show a bit more respect to the kit, ” Tuck in boys and socks up, ngatirove smatimbi !” The boys paid heed and when they trotted onto the pitch they looked really professional. Sekuru Jibha respected football and looking smart on the pitch was his way of showing that respe
The old adage , ” The apparel often proclaims the man ” still rings true. On and off the pitch , it is good to look well. It is important to respect football and how our legends dress can go a long way in showing that. I respect all legends but those legends who make a special effort to look the part deserve an big salute ! This article does that.