Shaya, Chunga, Ndlovu or Billiat?

JOHANNESBURG - On one of the biggest football forums on the African continent, one Zimbabwe journalist asked who should be considered the greatest of all of Zimbabwe’s past and present football players.

While some will come up with their own “weird” names, the four names that dominated the charts were those of George Shaya, Moses Chunga, Peter Ndlovu and recently Khama Billiat.

As expected, in such debates, there won’t be a clear winner and discussions of such nature will drag on and on with some resorting to vulgar language to underscore their argument.

The two Shaya and Chunga played for the country’s most successful club Dynamos and as nature would have it; these two are always bound to get more emotional backing.

Ndlovu, on the other hand, played for Highlanders, the club with almost 100 percent backing from people of Ndebele-speaking ethnic group, while Billiat resonates with the current crop of followers.

As I said earlier, this debate ended without any clear winner.

If anything, it created more problems than solutions as people ended up swearing at each other to put across their points.

Shaya played for Dynamos in the 70s and early 80s and those who saw him in action say on his day he was untouchable.

He won Zimbabwe’s Soccer Star of the Year a record five times and no other player has come close to emulating this.

I also never saw the Mastermind in action primarily because I grew up in the rural areas but those I spoke to say this guy was literally a flying machine.

They say he was well ahead of his contemporaries but was unfortunate that he didn’t manage to go and play overseas as the country was then under white minority rule and was under global sanctions.

Chunga meanwhile, dazzled the crowds in the 80s and to date is probably Dynamos’ most prized son.

Tall, tough to shake off the ball and with lethal finishing, the Razorman was a complete product. Unfortunately, his talent was marred at times by his wayward behaviour both on and off the field.

His drinking escapades and running battles with the fans undid some of the great work he achieved on the field of play.

He went on to play in Europe but because he lacked  good management, never moved away from a lowly Belgium side SC Eendracht Aalst.

But this striker was probably the most talented of them all.

Ndlovu on the other end, played a couple of seasons for Highlanders and was immediately signed by Coventry in England where he became an instant hero.

To date, he remains Zimbabwe’s most popular foreign export after Bruce Grobbelaar.

With dazzling speed, dribbling skills and good finishing, Ndlovu remains the most revered Zimbabwe football player and is embraced across the board.

He completed his playing days at Mamelodi Sundowns where is now team manager at a club where Billiat is sending Mzansi football fans into a frenzy.

The tiny Hararian has literally carried Sundowns on his tiny shoulders and with the champions on the threshold of becoming champions of Africa, the Brazilian fans will hope the Zimbabwean is at his best to dethrone Zamalek in the Champions League final first leg this afternoon.

With massive talent, capacity to tear any defence apart on his day and ability to read the game, Billiat has his own myriad of supporters who think he has done enough to be Zimbabwe’s greatest.

But this is a topic which will not have a straight answer. Such debates on who should be considered Zimbabwe’s all time great can go on and on but no accepted winner will be found.

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