Maenzanise, a misunderstood midfield genius

BULAWAYO - Funerals are generally sombre occasions as friends and relatives mourn their dearly departed. It is rare for laughter to be heard as preachers and other delegated speakers usually say out their speeches in a solemn manner.

This definitely was not the case at the funeral service of the late Warriors midfielder Nqobizitha Maenzanise who passed away last Sunday.

Laughter was consistent among the mourners as speaker after speaker recounted the life and times of the former Merlin Husky, Highlanders, Zimbabwe Saints, AmaZulu and Chrome Stars player.

Nicknamed Humpty, Jackal or Mancho, Maenzanise was described as a brilliant footballer who could have gone far in his career had it not been for his eccentric behaviour.

And recollections of his weird actions certainly had the mourners in stitches at the Bulawayo Baptist Church on Wednesday morning.

AmaZulu owner Delma Lupepe reminisced how Maenzanise had at one time gotten into trouble with the law after patting a female flight attendant’s behind during a flight back to Bulawayo from a match in Harare.

“We were travelling back home to Bulawayo by air and during the flight Humpty caressed a flight attendant’s behind and the woman was incensed and demanded an apology, but Maenzanise refused and a report was made to the captain who in turn alerted the police. When we landed at Joshua Mqabuko Airport the player was detained by police details,” Lupepe said.

“We had lost in Harare and I was already angry at the outcome of the game so I said I am not getting involved and got into my car and left and I understand it was Kenny (Mujuru) who successfully begged the police to let him go and he was released.”

Lupepe went on to describe another incident whereby Maenzanise’s eccentricity came to the fore at Barbourfields when the player did not come out for the second half on time and the referee re - started the game without realising that AmaZulu were a man short.

When Humpty eventually emerged he tried to sneak in without alerting the referee and earned himself a caution in the process.

Veteran coach Cosmas “Tsano” Zulu had earlier recounted how Maenzanise had boldly proposed to a white woman when the Highlanders Under-19 side travelled to Scotland in 1987 to take part in the Aberdeen Youth Football Festival.

“Maenzanise acted strangely at times and that led to his being misunderstood and that affected his football career,” Zula said.

“I remember at one time when he had been promoted into the senior team at Highlanders and we had selected him to play at the weekend but after training when we wanted to announce the squad he was nowhere to be found, having changed and gone home before we had conducted our team talk,” Zulu said.

And this eccentric streak would stay with the Jackal even after he had hung up his boots and Daily News sports correspondent Nash Mkokwayarira recalls an incident that happened when the late player was an assistant coach to Corlsen Mabeza and the late Jack Shamu at the now defunct Southern Region First Division outfit Bulawayo Arsenal.

“Humpty did not like to attend training sessions when we were doing physical exercises so one morning after he had not shown up a teammate of mine, Henry Moyo, asked me to accompany him to the Maenzanise’s home to collect a pair of shorts that the former star had promised him,” Mkokwayarira recalled.

“When we got there we found him sitting on the roof smoking a spiff of marijuana and he told Henry that he was disappointed because we had failed to arrive at the agreed time and proceeded to burn three holes on the shorts before throwing them to my friend.”

Many former players and administrators that spoke to journalists on the sidelines of Maenzanise’s funeral were of the opinion that the late footballer could have played at the highest level had he not been an oddball.

Lupepe in particular said the late footballer could have walked into any of the top teams in Europe.

“In all honesty, Maenzanise could have played overseas if he had gotten the right guidance and direction in his social life because he was an intelligent player who could play in various positions in the midfield,” Lupepe said.

“He was a true leader on the field of play and I am happy that MaHumpty had at the time of his death accepted Christ as his personal saviour and so he is not only a hero to me because of his football skills but also because of the way he has gone out.”

Maenzanise passed away last Sunday at the age of 45 and was buried at West Park Cemetery in Bulawayo on Wednesday.

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