Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
IN the year that Dynamos legend George Shaya should have been celebrating his diamond anniversary in style, the crisis rocking the club that gave him fame somewhat blighted his birthday celebrations in Harare yesterday.
Five-time Soccer Star of the Year Shaya turned 75 yesterday.
A group of some of the Dynamos legends led by former winger David George organised a bash to celebrate the life of the man who used to dazzle DeMbare’s opponents in the 1970s.
But there was no doubting that the serious threat of Dynamos being relegated for the first time since its formation in 1963 dominated the discussions at Shaya’s birthday party.
Edward Sadomba and Laban Kandi were among some former players who attended the party.
George said they decided to throw a party for the man who was affectionately known during his heyday as “Mastermind’’ in special recognition of the role he played for Dynamos.
“As Dynamos sons, we have just decided to celebrate together with one of our own during his special day.
George Shaya is not just a Dynamos legend, but one of the best players to ever emerge in this country,” said George.
“Shaya has turned 75 and we wish him all well. We organised this small function just to express our undying love for one of the best players ever to emerge from this country.
“You cannot talk of Dynamos without mentioning his name. You cannot talk of Zimbabwean football without talking of George Shaya.
“We set down with colleagues and we resolved to celebrate together with Shaya on his birthday. It is also during times like these that we meet as Dynamos sons and take time to reflect on the time we spent at the institution called Dynamos,” George said.
Shaya was also at the helm of Dynamos as chairman when the club reached their finest hour, featuring in the 1998 Champions League final.
Dynamos, who had Sunday Chidzambwa as coach and George as an assistant, eventually lost 4-2 on aggregate following a 0-0 draw in the first leg at the National Sports Stadium.
George, who also held the post of head coach at DeMbare in 1999, revealed that the former players were worried by the situation at the club.
“We are aware of the risky position the team is currently occupying on the log. That’s not good for the team. That’s something else. That’s strange for this institution.
“Dynamos cannot be seen fighting relegation. They belong to the top third of the log, I mean always. This is a team with a successful tradition.
“It’s a big brand, I mean everything as they represent football for this country,”
He said while there are other good teams in the Premiership, Dynamos should remain a competitive outfit which cannot easily surrender.
“Of course there are other good teams which are big like Highlanders and CAPS United who I have a lot of respect for. There are others which are difficult to ignore like FC Platinum, Chicken Inn, Black Rhinos and Ngezi Platinum Stars.
“But all that doesn’t mean Dynamos should be struggling the way they are doing at the moment.
“We, however, remain hopeful the team will survive at the end of the day,” George said.
Shaya remains the only player to have won the Soccer Star of the Year accolade five times, having claimed the prize on its inception in 1969 and repeated the feat three years later.
He monopolised the prize for three successive years between 1975 and 1977.
The only other Dynamos player to have won the accolade during that period is Ernest Kamba, who wrestled it in 1973.
Other Dynamos players to also have won the Soccer Star of the Year accolade include David Mandigora (1980), Japhet “Shortcat” Mparutsa (1982), Moses Chunga (1986), Memory Mucherahowa (1994), Tauya Murewa (1995), Murape Murape (2007), Washington Arubi (2011), Denver Mukamba (2012) and Tawanda Mparati (2013).