PETER NDLOVU: A TRIBUTE
Ndlovu: a magical footballing god
Former Chronicle chief reporter Admore Tshuma who broke the story of Peter Ndlovu’s early relationship with South Africa’s songbird, Sharon Dee has re-visited the Zimbabwe international. This time, Sibanda urges Highlanders and the City Council to erect a statue of him at the Babourfields stadium in honour of his extraordinary achievements.
By Admore Tshuma
FEBRUARY 25, 1973 was the night a Zimbabwean footballing legend was born..
Earlier on that day, in a crime-ravaged and poverty-ridden suburb of Makoboba in Bulawayo, a middle-aged woman, Abigail Mary Nyoni, went into labour to deliver her seventh child.
Those who are close to MaNyoni say the usually prolonged labour-pain was mysteriously and magically shortened, as the baby was “quick” to come out.
She delivered a bouncing baby boy and named him Peter, after the biblical Simon Peter -- a football genius who was to dominate the world of soccer had emerged.
Peter is the seventh out of eleven brothers and sisters.
From a tender age of 16, he magically catapulted himself into top-flight football rising from the ashes of ghetto life to the affluent surroundings afforded by playing in the England premiership.
In England, they simply called him the Bulawayo Bullet or the Flying Elephant. In Zimbabwe, he was a footballing god.
He did his primary education at Lotshe Primary School and then went to Mzilikazi High School for his secondary education where he first tested his early football skills using plastic balls. He never looked back.
Peter's shot into the limelight in 1989 when, together with his childhood friend Benjamin Nkhonjera, another great Highlanders and Warriors kingpin, inspired Mzilikazi High School into winning a nationwide Coca-Cola Cup.
The news of his retirement from his beloved craft has touched many.
Zimbabwean football is synonymous with the name Peter Ndlovu. After 15 years of a glittering international football career, Peter has left a treasure trove of footballing memories home and abroad - and every Warriors captain who comes after him faces the biggest challenge.
It was an emotional moment when he declared his retirement from a career that has seen him at the summit of the most celebrated and supported sport, football.
From the early 1990s, he would turn the Warriors fortunes whenever Zimbabwe seemed to be drowning. Remember his magnificent goals against South Africa, Egypt, Swaziland, Lesotho etc. There was a time in Zimbabwean football when Peter would score in every game he featured for Zimbabwe.
It may be a goal, it may be a particular piece of impish skill, it may be a match on which he indelibly stamped his name -- Zimbabweans saw it all.
Peter Ndlovu was swift and fearless in the tackle and he lived the art of dribbling. He is one player who quickly overgrew his original club, Highlanders.
Some of Peter Ndlovu’s amazing achievements include:
* Current longest serving African player in the UK
* Current longest serving member of the Warriors – record 15 years service
* Scored a record 32 goals, the highest ever scored by an individual player
* Scored a winning goal against Liverpool when he was playing for Sheffield in FA Cup
* For many times breathed life into Coventry City against big teams such as Manchester United and Arsenal.
Peter Ndlovu was quick and beautifully balanced. He could hit long and short passes with equal precision.
The question is: How do we measure a great player? If Peter Ndlovu is not Zimbabwe’s greatest player of all time, who then is a greatest player? Or if Peter is not is there anything like a great player?
If the European media has unanimously agreed that Peter is the best footballer Zimbabwe has ever produced why do Zimbabweans disagree among themselves yet there is no doubt that the success of an football player on planet earth is judged by his ability to be signed by European clubs. Peter did more than that – he stayed there and at one stage Manchester United, the world’s richest club were watching him. This is on record.
It is important for the country to honour this great Warrior. If the Zimbabwe Football Association would not honour a great player such as Peter, Highlanders should do so.
I propose that Peter’s statue is erected at Barboufrields Football, the pitch that saw him sharpening up his skills all the way to London.
Back home, in the streets of Bulawayo, where he was born and bred, Peter is regarded as a living legend. Those who went to school with him and those who groomed and guided him such as Ali Baba speak proudly of him.
Few will disagree with me that he is the most gifted footballer Zimbabwe has ever produced.
I once watched Ndlovu turn out for Sheffield United against West Bromich. Seeing Peter play in his prime was to be mesmerised by his dazzling ability. There wasn't anything he couldn't do. Radio and television soccer commentators nick-named him the African George Best.
In short, he was the perfect footballer.
Perhaps the best words that sum up Peter’s amazing talent came from South Africa’s Sundowns club owner, Patrice Motsepe, who said of him: "Peter is very special and, I said it some time ago, that if we sign a foreigner, he has got to be the best. I can tell you we have signed one the best strikers on the continent."
Motsepe added: "It is an honour for us as a club to have him. He is very special and I know that players of his ilk will inspire our youth".
When he turned professional and made his debut at Coventry City in England, many football supporters even those of a rival team quickly fell in love with him.
Trevor Lanes, a life Coventry supporter says: “Watching him play was a joy. He scored essential goals for Coventry. I remember one day when I woke up early in the morning to read a story in The Sun saying Manchester United were bidding for Peter. Most Coventry supporters were upset with the Man U advances.”
“I am yet to see an African striker who will reach the level of Peter. Didier Drogba of Chelsea is not as skilful as Peter used to be. Didier Drogba is just a lucky player but Peter used to find his way with the ball,” said Lanes.
A British academic Simon Pemberton of the University of Bristol said: “When Peter joined Birmingham City he had an injury. But what amazed everyone of us is that he always scored crucial goals. He was unbelievably too quick for defenders."
The following are Peter Ndlovu’s achievements in his illustrious 15 years career with the Warriors.
1 1 14/04/91 Harare Malawi 4-0 Nations Cup Qualifier
1 2 14/07/91 Harare Congo 2-2 Nations Cup Qualifier
1 3 27/07/91 Zomba Malawi 2-2 Nations Cup Qualifier
2 5 16/06/92 Harare South Africa 4-1 Nations Cup Qualifier
- 5 9/10/92 Harare Togo 1-0 World Cup Qualifier
1 6 20/12/92 Harare Egypt 2-1 World Cup Qualifier
- 6 10/01/93 Luanda Angola 1-1 World Cup Qualifier
- 6 17/01/93 Lomé Togo 2-1 World Cup Qualifier
1 7 31/01/93 Harare Angola 2-1 World Cup Qualifier
- 7 15/04/93 Lyon Egypt 0-0 World Cup Qualifier
- 7 24/04/93 Johannesburg South Africa 1-1 Nations Cup Qualifier
- 7 2/05/93 Conakry Guinea 0-3 World Cup Qualifier
- 7 4/07/93 Harare Cameroon 1-0 World Cup Qualifier
- 7 10/10/93 Yaoundé Cameroon 1-3 World Cup Qualifier
- 7 24/04/94 Mmabatho South Africa 0-1
1 8 13/11/94 Harare Zaire 2-1 Nations Cup Qualifier
1 9 23/04/95 Harare Malawi 1-1 Nations Cup Qualifier
- 9 30/07/95 Yaoundé Cameroon 0-1 Nations Cup Qualifier
- 9 27/04/97 Harare Angola 0-0 World Cup Qualifier
- 9 17/08/97 Harare Cameroon 1-2 World Cup Qualifier
1 10 19/04/98 Harare Namibia 5-2 Cosafa Cup
1 11 24/05/98 Maputo Mozambique 2-0 Cosafa Cup
1 12 31/07/99 Harare Senegal 2-1 Nations Cup Qualifier
1 13 9/04/00 Bangui Cent.Afr.Rep. 1-0 World Cup Qualifier
1 14 23/04/00 Harare Cent.Afr.Rep. 3-1 World Cup Qualifier
- 14 18/06/00 Conakry Guinea 0-3 World Cup Qualifier
- 14 9/07/00 Harare South Africa 0-2 World Cup Qualifier
1 15 16/07/00 Bulawayo Seychellen 5-0 Nations Cup Qualifier
- 15 29/07/00 Port Elizabeth South Africa 1-0 Cosafa Cup
1 16 3/09/00 Harare Congo DR 3-2 Nations Cup Qualifier
- 16 8/10/00 Accra Ghana 1-4 Nations Cup Qualifier
2 18 24/02/01 Bobo Dioulasso Burkina Faso 2-1 World Cup Qualifier
- 18 11/03/01 Harare Malawi 2-0 World Cup Qualifier
1 19 24/03/01 Maseru Lesotho 1-0 Nations Cup Qualifier
1 20 5/05/01 Johannesburg South Africa 1-2 World Cup Qualifier
- 20 3/06/01 Harare Ghana 1-2 Nations Cup Qualifier
- 20 17/06/01 Kinshasa Congo DR 1-2 Nations Cup Qualifier
- 20 8/07/01 Harare Swaziland 2-1 Cosafa Cup
- 20 5/05/02 Harare Swaziland 0-2 Cosafa Cup
- 20 8/09/02 Harare Mali 1-0 Nations Cup Qualifier
1 21 12/10/02 Asmara Eritrea 1-0 Nations Cup Qualifier
2 23 30/03/03 Harare Seychellen 3-1 Nations Cup Qualifier
2 25 5/07/03 Harare Eritrea 2-0 Nations Cup Qualifier
- 25 19/07/03 East London South Africa 1-0 Cosafa Cup
2 27 31/08/03 Bulawayo Swaziland 2-0 Cosafa Cup
1 28 5/10/03 Harare Malawi 2-0 Cosafa Cup
1 29 12/10/03 Harare Mauretania 3-0 World Cup Qualifier
1 30 25/01/04 Sfax Egypt 1-2 African Nations Cup
2 32 29/01/04 Sfax Cameroon 3-5 African Nations Cup
- 32 3/02/04 Sfax Algeria 2-1 African Nations Cup
Types of Goals
World Cup Qualifiers 8
African Nations Cup Finals 3
Afrioca Cup of Nations qualifiers 16
Other Tournaments 5
Tshuma is a
former Chronicle reporter now reading for a Doctor of Social Policy
degree at the University of Bristol. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
All material copyright newzimbabwe.com
Material may be published or reproduced in any form with appropriate credit to this website