WAGs (wives and girlfriends), is a term not common in Zimbabwe’s football vocabulary.
BY MICHAEL MADYIRA
The term, popularised by English footballers, is used in reference to their partners.
The players take pride in parading their women who take every opportunity to steal the limelight with their flamboyant social lives and extravagant shopping tendencies.
Local footballer Vusa Nyoni has adopted such a lifestyle with his Belgian girlfriend Shari Stael.
The Antwerp-based utility player who is also known for his style-blended wardrobe enjoys a glitzy life with Stael and part of their lifestyle includes shopping trips and holidays in acclaimed European cities like Paris, Rome and Amsterdam.
During the off-season in July, Nyoni retreated to Amsterdam with Stael to shake off the steam of a long season.
But like many Zimbabwean footballers, the Germinal Beerschot player always tries to shield his love life away from prying eyes.
“I do not like people to know about my love life because it is my private life,” said the 28-year- old player.
“I am not showy like other footballers but always prefer to keep it to myself. I am planning to get married soon, so I will make it public when I get engaged or just before I wed.”
Nyoni drives a BMW X6 around the Belgium city of Antwerp where he owns a bachelor apartment.
Nyoni also revealed that he splashed 78 000 euros for an X6 which is part of his collection that includes an X5 and 330, which the player drives when he is in the country, underlining a penchant for the BMW range of cars.
“Playing in Belgium has taught me a lot about life, especially investing for life after football. I bought properties for myself and my parents. As a professional you learn how to wisely spend and manage your money because if you are careless you end up joining those players who die as paupers,” said Nyoni.
Now in his seventh season of playing in the Belgian Pro-Jupiler League, four of which he spent at Cercle Brugge which he joined from Highlanders in 2006, Nyoni feels Europe has immensely shaped his game and is ready for challenges in more competitive European league.
“In Belgium, football is both more technical and tactical, just like in big European leagues. The game is very competitive here and I have improved so much as a player.
“I have received offers from clubs in France and Russia but I am still weighing up my options and my agent is handling all that,” said Nyoni.
Former Real Madrid defender, Raul Bravo, is one of his teammates but he says his close friend is Argentine Hernan Losada.
His club is former home to acclaimed stars like Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen, Tottenham’s Moussa Dembele, former Senegal star Khalilou Fadiga and former South Africa captain Aaron Mokoena.
Having long-settled in Belgium, Nyoni said he was now fluent in Dutch and French but added that it did not stop him from missing home.
“I always feel homesick. Sometimes I feel like having someone around who can speak my languages. And obviously I miss eating sadza most.”
However, the presence of compatriots Honour Gombami and Cephas Chimedza, who also play in Belgium, usually helps ease his homesickness when they occasionally hang out.
Nyoni could have broken into the European league in 2003 when Benjani Mwaruwari recommended him for trials at French League 2 side AJ Auxerre who were then in the top-flight league.
As if something was working against him going to Europe, he was robbed of his air ticket and money a few days before flying to France but Mwaruwari came to his rescue.
However, after a successful trial stint, AmaZulu and Auxerre could not agree on terms and he could not join the French side.
“I was devastated because it was a good opportunity for me to go to Europe,” said Nyoni.
Nyoni’s time came in 2006 when he was playing for his boyhood club, Highlanders.
It was then that he was spotted by English side Blackburn Rovers’ scouts who recommended him to Cercle Brugge whom they were working with. He rejoined Bosso from Amazulu.
“My first day at Cercle Brugge was awful. There was a heavy downpour and the training pitch became terrible to play on so it was hard for me to impress. The club even thought of sending me to a lower division club but later reversed their decision and I guess they made a good choice,” he said with a chuckle.
My father is my role model
Nyoni said his father Dumisani, a Highlanders legend was his “mentor and role model.”
And now he wishes to help the warriors midfielder Ovidy Karuru who recently relocated to Belgium after signing with for Oud-Heverlee Leuven