God is my inspiration: Kutyauripo

HARARE - Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi and Alessandro Costacurta are some of the names which easily come to mind when one speaks of the best defenders in the history of the most beautiful game.

Not because they are Italian, or because they played for seven-time European champions AC Milan, but it is because they left an indelible mark in football.

Former Italy and Rossoneri skipper Maldini, is probably the most recognisable among the local fans.

Maldini broke into the Milan first team squad in 1985 as a fresh-faced teenager aged 16, and went on to play at the highest level for the next 25 seasons for his childhood club.

Retiring at 41 in 2009, Maldini is forever remembered as one of the world’s best defenders having made 647 appearances for Milan and 126 caps for Italy at the height of catenaccio — when Italian football was known for its strong emphasis on defensive formations.

In football, in most cases it is the goalkeepers who usually enjoy longer careers than infield players.

But it is infield players like Maldini, Costacurta, Barresi, Ryan Giggs, Teddy Sheringham — who aged 40+, continued playing at the highest level.

Although David Kutyauripo might not have reached 40 yet or the heights of the great Maldini, or Giggs — the amazing thing about his career is the drive that has kept him going strong for the last 20 years, when most of his peers have long hung up their boots.

Now almost only three years shy of his 40th birthday, Kutyauripo is still going strong, skippering Harare City and playing regularly for the Taurai Mangwiro-coached side.

At the moment, he has formed a solid partnership with Themba Ndlovu at the heart of the Sunshine Boys defence, covering goalkeeper Tafadzwa Dube well — conceding only 13 goals in 16 games.

City have the third best defence after only Chicken Inn and Dynamos, who have let in 11 goals apiece.

Former Kaizer Chiefs centre-back Lincoln Zvasiya has been released after only six months at the Sunshine Boys for failing to dislodge either Kutyauripo or Ndlovu in the City starting XI.

Kutyauripo made his Premiership debut aged 20, with Air Zimbabwe Jets in 1999, alongside veterans like William Chimwemwe, George Time, Hubert Munjanja, Patrick Chapoterera and Lloyd Jowa.

Interestingly, he is now lining up alongside one of his former teammates’ son at City, Takudzwa Chimwemwe.

“It is only by God’s grace that I am still able to wake up every day with the same passion that I had in high school,” Kutyauripo says.

“Imagine, Taku is now my teammate, but I played with his father William at Air Zimbabwe Jets. Most of my former teammates then have long since retired or are late, but look I am here still fit and strong.”

Not a one-team man like Maldini, a predicament that faces most African players of course, Kutyauripo is a journeyman of local football.

He has played for Air Zimbabwe Jets, Circle Cement, Njube Sundowns, Shooting Stars, Cypriot side Apop Kinyras Pegia for two seasons, Dynamos, CAPS United and now Harare City.

At Circle Cement he lined-up with the likes of James Matola, Misheck Mapika and Joseph Tangaringofa, at Sundowns the late Mephias Webb and Nkosana Gumbo.

A player, who has been once accused of being a hothead, after twice walking away from Dynamos and CAPS United, Kutyauripo says he “is a victim” of his outgoing character.

“Look, I am just a player who has gone this far with discipline and commitment without which my career wouldn’t have seen me play in Europe,” he says.

“I’m just a victim of circumstances. My weakness is that I am extrovert, I’m outgoing and am not afraid to speak my mind.”

Last season, Kutyauripo was voted amongst the 11 best players when he was as one of the Castle Lager Soccer Star of the year finalists.

Turning 37, this year, the Mabvuku-born defender says he is not yet planning for life after retirement because he still “has a lot” to offer in the field of play rather than from the sidelines.

“I’m still fit. God has been my inspiration and I feel I still have the energy to go on playing for a few more seasons. As long as my body can carry me, retiring is not option for now,” he says.

Comments (1)

go on diva age is not denial but experince

I.KARAGA - 14 August 2015

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