IT is every local footballer’s dream to play professional football abroad, and players often do whatever it takes to achieve that feat.
BY ALBERT MARUFU
Like every footballer, former Buffaloes and Highlanders left back Noah Muvindi was not an exception.
With teen excitement, Muvindi packed his bags for Cyprus in October 2002 hoping to land a contract with First Division side, Bliss FC.
Muvindi — then two months short of his 23rd birthday — didn’t leave room for the disappointment that was to ambush him.
Like a scar off a terrible wound, the hurt has refused to heal almost 11-years since the intended move hit a snag.
Now an assistant coach at Southern Region Division One side Chrome Stars, “Wezhinji”, aptly nicknamed because of his love for money, still talks about the incident as if it happened yesterday.
“Problems started at Zurich Airport in Switzerland, where an immigration official denied me a transit visa to Cyprus, alleging that the passport I was using was not mine. I had to sleep on the benches at the airport. It was a very cold night,” said Muvindi.
“I had about US$30 on me, but could not buy food because I did not know how this was going to end. I was banking on the food provided in the flight. In the morning they accused me of sleeping illegally in that country because I did not have a visa. I explained my situation, but they did not understand.”
Muvindi claims to have started walking around the airport, looking for a familiar face to help.
“I saw this guy who was from Zimbabwe and worked at the airport. He was also a Highlanders supporter and helped me proceed with my journey to Cyprus,” he said.
However, Muvindi’s problems were far from over as he was to realise in Cyprus.
“After one week training with the team [Bliss FC], they asked for my work permit and I did not have one. That is why I came back home. What made it worse is that Highlanders coach did not know where I was. Lucky for me, team manager Ernest “Maphepha” Sibanda allowed me to train, despite a weeks absence,” he said.
Sadly, that was the last time he got an opportunity to showcase his undoubted talent abroad in a career spanning eight years ending at 27 years of age.
However, the 33-year-old had exciting moments in his career, which saw him lifting two consecutive Premiership championships and various trophies with Highlanders in 2001 and 2002.
“Highlanders are a big side and when Eddie May [former Highlanders coach] offered me a chance to join the club from Buffaloes I did not hesitate. Then the left back position was being played by Gift Lunga and competition was stiff. I joined the club together with Eddie Nyika and Eddie Dube,” he said.
“We won a number of trophies including the Zifa Unity Cup and also won the Bulawayo derby against AmaZulu.”
On the national team, Muvindi said there were just good players during his time such as, Allan Johnson and Wesley Gilbert.
Muvindi said his dream is to see Chrome Stars bouncing back to the Premiership.
He started his career at Giants in Division One before moving to Buffaloes two years later.
In 2000 the club was promoted to Premiers Soccer League, but he moved to Highlanders after just a season. From then on, the rest is history.
Player exodus deprived Bosso
Muvindi said Bosso could have continued their dominance in the league and also done well in the CAF Champions League in 2002, had it not been for a player exodus.
“The team lost Adam Ndlovu [late]and Stewart Murisa, who both joined South African clubs. The following season it was worse because the team lost Dazzy Kapenya, Thabani Masawi, Siza Khoza, Charles Chilufya Blessing Gumiso and myself,” he said.
He joined Lancashire Steel because the company offered him a job.
“I had left my employment with the army because I did not like the way players were being treated,” he said.
“I played up to the 2006 season and joined Zimasco in Division One. I quit at 27 because fans could not understand how a former Bosso player was playing in Division One. They always told me that I was now a spent force and that destroyed my confidence.”