George Shaya: Zimbabwe’s GOAT

16 Oct, 2021 - 00:10 0 Views
George Shaya: Zimbabwe’s GOAT The late George Shaya

The Chronicle

Innocent Kurira, Sports Reporter
GEORGE Shaya was in a class of his own!

Many times the young generation has heard of how great a footballer he was.

The world finally got sight of a documentary based on the life of the ‘Mastermind”, now conclusively viewed as the best ever player Zimbabwe has produced.

Scores of football fans were in attendance as the Albert Chiwandamira-produced documentary titled ‘George Shaya Mastermind Documentary’ was premiered at the Ster Kinekor Cinema in Bulawayo on Thursday.

Luminaries that attended included living legends Douglas ‘British’ Mloyi, Madinda Ndlovu, Twyman Ncube, Netsai Moyo and Amos Rendo.

Renowned referee, Thomas Khumalo as well as revered football administrators Ndumiso Gumede and Kenneth Mhlophe were also present for the premiere.

The documentary touches on the late Shaya’s playing career at Dynamos and his stint in South Africa which is evidence that he was not only respected in Zimbabwe but in the region as well.

Shaya had a short stint at Moroka Swallows but despite the short stay, he left a lasting legacy in the neighbouring country.

He was the man who led them to their first silverware and chief executive officer Sipho Xulu remembers how the mastermind masterminded the downfall of Kaizer Chiefs in a cup final.

“The game was the ‘Thriller in Manila of South Africa’ because everybody expected the game to go the other way (a win for Kaizer Chiefs). George Shaya played very well and it is one game he showed us how capable he was.”

Albert Risimati, a Swallows supporter who watched the game, added: “George Shaya completely outshone Jarzinho( who was a top player in SA that time). Moroka Swallows had never won any silverware, he (Shaya) created two goals for Moroka Swallows and for the very first time, Swallows won a trophy.”

Risimati says he vividly recalls how Zulu commentators would go “Akatshayeki Ushaya” when the mastermind was running the show. It simply referred to how indispensable he was with the ball at his feet.

During his peak another South African player who was on top of his game was the legendary Jomo Sono. Though the two were different in stature but arguably the two most skillful players in the region, fate ensured the two met on the field of play as opponents.

This was in the the Southern Africa Champion of Champions.

The champions were to be decided in two legs.

Orlando Pirates won the first leg, in Johannesburg, 5-3, before Shaya turned on the show at a packed Rufaro stadium in the second leg to inspire the Glamour Boys to a 4-1 victory.

That gave them a 7-6 aggregate victory in a vintage season in which they won five of the six Cup tournaments, scoring 67 goals, in 19 Cup fixtures.

Shaya’s wife recalls the game and smiles as she narrates how Jomo Sono shed tears after that game. Most importantly the documentary also addresses the issue of racial integration during the 80s when sport played a huge role in uniting Zimbabweans.

At one time there were two parallel leagues, one for the black community and the other for the whites.

All that changed at Independence when the country introduced a single league for all races.

Graham Boyle spoke on how football was segregated.

“You wouldn’t see it on the sport pages as Cricket and Rugby grabbed the headlines.”
Guest of honour at the premiere Ndumiso Gumede emphasised the need to celebrate legends like Shaya while they are still alive.

“I am one of the lucky people to have seen Shaya play. Unfortunately, he is not here to see this work. The documentary is a reminder of the contributions made by Shaya to Zimbabwean football,” said Gumede.

His sentiments were echoed by veteran journalist Lovemore Dube who said: “It is unfortunate that we lost Shaya just before the premiere. However, the most important thing that we need to do is to celebrate all our legends while they are alive.”

The George Shaya Mastermind Documentary, is a project headed by the executive producer, Chiwandamira, who is based in the US. He has assembled a team of locally-based filmmakers and journalists and a South Africa-based guru Denford Dzingira.

Shaya is among the most celebrated yesteryear footballers to have played for Dynamos and the national team before independence.

He won the Soccer Star of the Year accolade a record five times.

Commenting on the feat Legend Douglas Mloyi said Shaya deserved all the five accolades.

There is consensus among football fans that Shaya was in the class of football greats like Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi but unfortunately he did not enjoy the exposure that today’s players are enjoying.
— @innocentskizoe

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