Charles Mabika Special Correspondent
Hamid “Muzukuru” Dhana, who passed away on Sunday after a long battle with colon cancer, was a rare breed of special footballers.
He had a bouncy spring in his step and possessed an inimitable body swerve that mesmerised his markers.
And, he scored special goals.
He had a flashy smile, most of the time, you always wondered if he ever got upset.
And he was also a larger-than-life character who always lit up the after-match celebrations with various jokes.
For over a decade, Muzukuru paraded his array of midfield wizardry at Arcadia United, Dynamos, Black Rhinos and the Warriors in the late ‘70s and ‘80s Golden Era after he left Morgan High School.
Many of us, who had known about his illness after he was diagnosed with the dreaded ailment three years ago, still believed if there was anyone who could beat this, then it would be the creative midfield genius.
But how wrong and foolish we all were because the man who lit up stadiums here, and elsewhere on the African continent with his imperious vision and dribbling ingenuity, peacefully breathed his last at his Braeside residence on Sunday afternoon.
His long-time colleague and former teammate at Arcadia United, Charlie Jones, said the local football fraternity had been robbed of a football great.
“I am really saddened by Mids’ passing on because we had talked about various soccer development projects once he recovered but, sadly, the Almighty decided to call him up above for more projects,” revealed Jones.
Muzukuru’s cabinet chest has various gold medals, among them the Super League title with Dynamos in 1982; the North Zone Division One championship crown with Rhinos in ‘83 and the Super League’s “Cup and League double” with the army team, a year later.
That season, Rhinos fashioned a record, which still stands today, of being the first and only side to win the league title in their debut top-flight season.
That Rhinos squad is arguably the finest.
It had the likes of Stanford “Stix” Mutizwa, Stanley “Sinyo” Ndunduma, Japhet Mparutsa, Gift Makoni, Maronga Nyangela, Jerry Chidawa, Leslie Kamuyoyo, Simon “AK” Mugabe, William Greene and William Chikauro.
Former Dynamos, Rhinos and Warriors head coach, Shepherd Murape, who brought Dhana to Dynamos from Arcadia United and then lured him to the army side, spoke of his shock when he heard the midfielder had passed away.
‘‘I am stunned . . . unbelievable because Mids was the kind of guy you never associate with death because of his jolly character.
‘‘That Rhinos side which won the League and Cup double was so amazing that my assistant, Ashton ‘Papa’ Nyazika, and I, never had to sweat hard by telling them what to do.
‘‘They were all telepathic, especially that attack-minded trio of Dhana, Mutizwa and Ndunduma .
“Players like him are so special that it takes another lifetime to produce one like him,” said Murape. A long-time fan of Arcadia United, who are now in Division Two, Funny Mushava, said there was no way one could compare today’s midfielders with the likes of Dhana.
“You see, guys like Muzukuru would make the ball ‘talk’. And that body swerve of his was pure magic. I’m almost certain he could split defences with those amazing passes with his eyes closed,” he said.
Dhana was a staunch follower of English Premiership side Liverpool, who are currently on top of the standings, and had, at the start of this season in August, predicted they would finally lift the league.
He had promised all his long-time friends who are fans of the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, he would have the last laugh – in their faces – this time around.
And, maybe, Muzukuru might still have that last laugh from a special place up above.