Tanyanyiwa's eventful career

HARARE - Comical and eccentric both on and off the pitch are the best words to describe Tendai Tanyanyiwa’s football career.

The former Black Aces, Dynamos and Highlanders goalkeeper had a colourful career in the domestic Premiership before joining the great trek to South Africa.

The world over, goalkeepers are considered as people with less appealing personalities mainly because they use their hands in a sport which everyone else uses their feet.

Tanyanyiwa is no exception. Born with a likeable character he guarded the goal for two of the country’s biggest clubs before a cardiac ailment cruelly halted his career after he had moved to South Africa in 2012.

The Highfield-born star was hoping to prolong his career at South Africa’s Absa Premiership side University of Pretoria (Amatuks) but he never fulfilled that dream.

“I hanged up my boots when the doctors came to me with shocking news that I have a double bounce on my heartbeat (atrial fibrillation), and advised me to stop playing instantly,” Tanyanyiwa told the Daily News.

“That time I had had three operations on my left knee and it hurt a lot. The doctors said I had a chance of getting a heart-attack while running or playing.

“It worries me now because it’s difficult for me to even run on my own.

“I sometimes fear that I might get a heart-attack while running as a result I am no longer exercising; and I have become fat and unfit. I have lost shape and I look like a politician.”

That aside, Tanyanyiwa remains one of the few players who had the privilege of playing for the country’s two biggest teams.

Born on October 6, 1982, Tanyanyiwa honed his skills at the famous Zimbabwe Grounds while turning out for junior side Highfield United before it was christened to Zimbabwe Crackers.

Tanyanyiwa’s exploits between the sticks quickly attracted the attention of the now defunct Black Aces, which was the team that gave him his big break in the top flight league in November 1998.

Coincidentally, his debut for Aces in the top flight was against Highlanders.

“It was a big scary day playing at Rufaro that night under floodlights,” Tanyanyiwa recalls of his first game in the Premiership which ended 1-1.   

Claiming the Aces’ number one jersey was no small feat considering that Tanyanyiwa had to dispose the long-serving Emmanuel “Shumba” Nyahuma, who had been a permanent feature in the starting XI since the early 90s. After impressing with Aces, Tanyanyiwa was called up to the Zimbabwe Under-17 squad the following year.

In only a year-and -a-half, Tanyanyiwa had done enough to warrant a move to Harare giants Dynamos in 2000. It was at DeMbare where Tanyanyiwa enjoyed his career most and at times doubled up as the team bus driver when he did not have a valid Class 1 licence.

“I had great times at Dynamos. I love the brand and I wish them well,” says Tanyanyiwa and on why he had to drive the team bus he had this to say: “I drove the bus for about a week because the driver was sick and unfortunately he passed away.

“That week I had to drive the team to and from training as well as to Rufaro for our game against Amazulu that weekend.

“I liked it (driving) but by then I didn’t have a licence. I was just taking a risk.”

While at DeMbare, the eccentric goalkeeper also made the headlines after he, on many occasions, tricked match officials by taking a goal kick while holding the ball.

According to Law 16 of the Game, a goal kick is a method of restarting play from any point within the goal area by the defending team when the ball is on the ground.

“There were few times I took a goal kick from my hands, it was an attack to the officials who were not doing their job properly,” said Tanyanyiwa.

“I was teaching them how to do their job. They would run to the centre line like it’s always going to be a long ball so I said to myself any chance they slip-up I do my thing and I started enjoying it until they sat down and decided to change their way of doing things.”

Of course, it will be foolish for Tanyanyiwa to forget the comfortable nursery that Bosso provided for him when he joined the Bulawayo giants in 2006.

He has a soft spot for both Bosso and Dynamos.

“I like both Dynamos and Highlanders, in the same special way, and I wish them well in whatever they do and if one of them is successful, then so be it, but I always wish they could all be successful because they are both close to my heart,” he says.

In a long career, Tanyanyiwa worked with some great coaches.

“Marc Duvillard taught me many tactics as a master tactician and he is a good trainer while Moses Chunga could change things anytime on the field. Keegan Mumba was in a class of his own and had everything in football.”

The former Highfield High 1 student also shared the dressing room with some exceptional talent.

“At Dynamos everyone was a friend because we were almost of the same age.

“But I was mostly close to Nyasha Chazika, James Matola and Andrew Chifamba.

“At Highlanders it was Ralph Matema, Tapuwa Kapini and Wonder Peperere all because we were staying together under one roof, so we were more like a family.”

At Highlanders, he was part of the championship winning side of 2006 before joining Amatuks in 2007.

He spent many years while toiling with the club in the National First Division before tragedy struck in 2012.

Due to his long-service to the club, Tanyanyiwa was integrated into the Amatuks technical department as the goalkeepers’ coach, a position he still holds to this day.

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