GIFT “Umbro” Muzadzi achieved what other players could only dream of in his glittering career that saw him turning out for the country’s most successful club, Dynamos, while also featuring prominently for the national team.
Muzadzi first caught the eye at the star-studded Darryn T squad in the 90s in a team that featured the likes of Norman Mapeza, Stewart Murisa, Lloyd Chitembwe, Edelbert Dinha, Forbes Ndaba and Alois Bunjira, among many other stars.
Having distinguished himself between the sticks at such an early age, Muzadzi was eventually taken to Poland by Wieslaw Grabowski but things did not work out as he struggled to command a first team jersey at RKS Radomiak.
It was upon his return from Europe, that Muzadzi signed for his childhood side Dynamos in what was the beginning of a career that would see him playing at the 1995 All Africa Games, the African Champions League final in 1998 and the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
However, despite winning the league title and several cups with Dynamos, Muzadzi reckons failure to play for DeMbare bitter rivals Highlanders remains one of his unfulfilled dreams in his career.
“I thank God for giving me an opportunity to showcase my talent. I grew up supporting Dynamos and when I joined them in 1995, it was a dream come true. I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and made full use of it,” Muzadzi told the Daily News on Sunday.
“However, growing up having seen the likes of Lovemore Ncube, Makwinji Soma Phiri and Lenny Gwata (May His Soul Rest in Peace) crossing over to join Dynamos, it’s something I felt I needed to experience. That’s when I developed the interest to play for Highlanders.”
The opportunity to join Highlanders came knocking at Muzadzi’s doors in 2001 after he was approached by then Bosso team manager Ernest “Mapepa” Sibanda alongside his former teammate and friend Murisa.
“I could not take the opportunity because of Tapiwa Kapini. Apparently, I and Murisa were meant to join AmaZulu but when the deal failed to materialise that’s when Highlanders came asking for our services,” recalled Muzadzi.
“For me to join Highlanders then was impossible because Kapini was just beginning to play for the team and there was nowhere I was going to sign and compete with him because we are family, he is my young brother.
“But I really wish to have at least played for Highlanders. Maybe it was never meant to be.”
Muzadzi does not regret his decision then, though. His biggest regret was when he blew an opportunity to play for South African side Bloemfontein Celtic.
“There was a year when I went for trials at Celtic in South Africa. It was supposed to be a one-week trial but during that period, I felt I was not given enough attention and I returned back home,” said Muzadzi, who is now goalkeeper’s coach at Dynamos.
“It’s something that I regret even up to now because if I had grabbed that opportunity, who knows probably my career would have taken a different direction. But it’s one of those things, maybe I was still young and lacked guidance.”
And looking back at his career, Muzadzi is grateful to Grabowski and Never Gombera for the roles they played in developing him at Darryn T.
“I don’t want to take anything from Grabowski, he made me the player I became. He is one guy who believed in youngsters. He allowed me to express what I had and I’m truly and honestly grateful,” Muzadzi said.
“Also, Gombera is another person who played a huge role in shaping my career. He afforded me an opportunity to train with Japhet Mparutsa and the exposure was immense.
“It was huge for me at such a young age. From him I learnt that with hard work, anything is possible.”
Muzadzi is now hoping to impart the experience he gained to the upcoming youngsters at the club.
At the moment, Muzadzi is currently at home after the 2020 Castle Lager Premiership season failed to take off in March owing to the coronavirus (Covid-19).
Dynamos this year have an experienced set of goalkeepers, who include the trusted Warriors stopper Simba Chinani, veteran Munyaradzi Diya and agile former Hwange gloveman Taimon Mvula.
“The idea is to help these upcoming youngsters to first understand what it means to play for Dynamos,” he said.
“Once they understand that everything will fall into place.
“And this year, I think we have equally good goalkeepers and we are just waiting for things to get back to normal and get back to serious business.
“I trust competition will be huge this time around. Just like in our days with George Mandizvidza and Ernest Chirambadare.
There is no time to relax.” Muzadzi’s unfulfilled dream