Football legend Phiri laid to rest

HARARE - The local football fraternity joined hands as hundreds of people bade farewell to the late former CAPS United forward Friday Phiri, who was laid to rest at Zororo Memorial Park in Harare on Sunday.

Coaches, football administrators and fans from CAPS United, Dynamos and other Premiership clubs also came in their numbers to give their last respects to Phiri. 

Yesteryear football greats including Moses Chunga, Stanford “Stix” Mutizwa, Emmanuel Nyahuma, John Phiri, Charlie Jones, Norman Mapeza, Carlos Max, Masimba Dinyero and Lloyd Chitembwe were all in attendance.

July Sharara, Henry Chari, Steven Chikodzi, Anthony Kambani, Brenna Msiska, Dumisani Mpofu, Desmond Maringwa, Justice Majabvi, Gift Makoni and Nesbert Saruchera were some of the other household names from the past, who were present.

Speaking at the graveside, CAPS United president Farai Jere paid tribute to Phiri for being part of a generation of players that made the club a football giant in Zimbabwean football.

“Twine Phiri and myself have been running around ever since we heard that Friday was not feeling well until he finally passed on,” Jere said.

“The reason we did that is because this man lying here was not any ordinary former football player; he was above the word legend.

“If Friday was still playing football today, I have no doubt that he would be one of the players playing in Europe.

“What he did is there for everyone to see; it is because of Friday and some of the other football legends that are here that there is great rivalry between CAPS United and Dynamos.”

The Makepekepe boss said Phiri had left a lasting legacy that will always be remembered in the history of Zimbabwean football.

“When we were at Friday’s home the other night, we started reminiscing about the good football we used to watch him play in the past and it turned into a heated argument.

“Can you imagine that in this year, we were still talking about that famous 7-0 CAPS United win over Dynamos that happened many years ago.

“Friday was part of the team that beat Dynamos and even today we are still talking about that game.”

Former Makepekepe president Twine Phiri described Phiri as a brother, who was instrumental in his career.

“Growing up, I used to look up to this man and he is the reason why I ended up rising to become the CAPS president,” he said.

“He used to give me a lot of advice on what needs to be done for the club to be successful and I owe a lot to this man for everything that I managed to achieve in football.”

Phiri passed away on Friday morning last week after a long battle with lung cancer at his Glen Norah home. He had been in and out of hospital in the last few weeks with doctors unable to stop the disease from spreading.

Phiri made his name at CAPS United when he formed part of the all-conquering side that won the club’s first league title in 1979 after joining from Mutare United that same year.

During his heyday, Phiri was blessed with good technique and dribbling skills while his physique made it hard for defenders to get him off the ball hence the moniker “Breakdown”.

After ending his playing career, Phiri took up coaching starting with the Makepekepe juniors where he nurtured a number of the club’s future stars.

In the Premiership, Phiri had coaching stints with Monomotapa and Eagles FC, who he guided into the top flight after winning the Northern Region Division One titles, and his last job in local football was with Triple B back in 2013.

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