Teenage sensation Kudzi “KD” Dhemere somehow fittingly chose the special day, when King Peter celebrated his 45th birthday on Sunday, to script another beautiful tale for himself and add his name to the latest chapter of the intense age-old rivalry which divides the country’s Big Three football clubs.
DeMbare’s pre-season poster boy became the first teenager to score in back-to-back battles against the Glamour Boys’ two biggest rivals — CAPS United and Highlanders — with his goals powering Lloyd Mutasa and his men to the first silverware of the year with success in the four-team invitational Commander ZNA Charities Shield.
Sunday’s goal against Bosso at the National Sports Stadium proved the difference as the 19-year-old continued to illuminate the pre-season roadshow with a combination of his golden goals and fresh-faced boyish looks.
The 19-year-old forward is certainly miles away from being labelled as a football prince in a kingdom in which the shadow of King Peter — the greatest of them all — still looms large more than a decade after he called time on an illustrious career that touched the heavens.
Since then, there has been a stampede for the search of the next domestic superstar with a number of pretenders to the throne he vacated — notably Knowledge Musona and Khama Billiat — casting their credentials for consideration at one stage or another.
Only for them to be drowned by the reality that King Peter stands alone in local football’s special enclosure of greatness.
The man who would become King was a mere 17-year-old when he was crowned Soccer Star of the Year, in 1990, back in an age of both innocence and substance for domestic football when this prestigious award represented greatness.
That was before its pollution by a toxic combination of some hawks, desperate to further the interests of their favoured clubs or players from their areas, and the dearth of genuine talent to merit such special honours,
He might have shared that initial Soccer Star of the Year award with George Nechironga, becoming only the third CAPS United player — after Shacky Tauro (1979) and Stanley Ndunduma (1981) — to win that award in 1990, but 12 months later, King Peter stood alone as domestic football’s superstar after winning the gong again.
It marked the start of a special journey in which Peter would transform himself into the finest footballer in the eyes of many this country had ever seen as he made history as the first African to play in the English Premiership, and then led his country to their first appearance at the Nations Cup finals.
On Sunday, King Peter celebrated his 45th birthday on the same day his brother Madinda, who is back in the trenches at their boyhood club Bosso as the head coach, was in Harare for another duel with the ultimate rival, Dynamos, in the Commander ZNA Charities Shield final.
Madinda has launched his revolution at Highlanders where he intends to rebuild the country’s oldest football club on a foundation of some young players who could breathe life into the team after years of under-achievement by their usual high standards.
But it wasn’t any of Madinda’s youth brigades who would emerge as the star of this latest battle between Bosso and DeMbare with that honour going to the teenage Glamour Boy with a nickname, drawn from the initials of his name, which represent greatness in the American National Basketball Association roadshows.
KD, in the playgrounds of the millionaires of the NBA, is the nickname of Kevin Durant, the 29-year-old small forward of the Golden State Warriors who is worth about $62,5 million after winning the NBA championship, NBA MVP, NBA Finals MVP, NBA all-star Game MVP and four NBA scoring titles.
These are levels of mega-riches, and greatness, domestic football’s version of KD, Kudzi Dhemere, is unlikely to match in his career, just as he is certainly never going to come any close to the legendary King Peter when it comes to his football.
But, right now, that is certainly not his immediate mission because, after all, he is just a rookie in this game still trying to find his feet playing at this level of football with only two big pre-season matches, and two priceless goals, under his belt.
The brutality of this game is seen by the huge number of shattered dreams of rookie footballers who believed they were destined for greatness only for them to be swallowed by the sport’s tough demands of consistency, and the ability to perform, when it matters most — the league championships and the all-inclusive knockout tournaments.
It’s one thing for a rookie to do very well in pre-season matches, but it’s another when the season gets underway and the going gets really tough.
It’s one thing for a rookie to perform very well in the comforts of the giant stadium, before a predominantly supportive home crowd, but it’s another for him to do that before a hostile crowd at Maglas, Mandava or even Luveve.
KD, the DeMbare KD that is, still has a lot to prove and two goals, in a pre-season knockout tournament, against CAPS United and Highlanders do not guarantee long-term success in this game and there will be some tougher hurdles for this teenage to clear before he can become the real deal.
“I believe that if I can improve on my weaknesses and utilise my strength, the best is yet to come,” KD told our sister newspaper H-Metro on Sunday. “As a young player I believe that I have enough time to bring the best out of me if I am willing to learn from experienced players.
“I am also aiming to work extra hard so that I can be recognised and maybe get a chance of playing for the national team. Who knows, maybe 2018 will be a great year for me.”
The DeMbare establishment believe they have a gem, which just needs some polishing, on their hands and long before he had been ushered onto the big stage to lead the line in matches against CAPS United and Highlanders, they had seen his potential by naming him their best youth player last year.
The real campaign begins for him now because he is no longer a footballer the opposition doesn’t know and the tackles will be fierce, the focus on him will be tougher and pressure on him to deliver will keep rising.
That’s for the future and can wait, but what can’t be ignored, for now, is that he is the talk of town and somehow, fate ensured that his most decisive goal, the one he scored against Highlanders on Sunday, came on the special day the King of domestic football himself, Peter Ndlovu, was celebrating his 45th birthday.