Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
BREAKING into competitive football leagues that pay better than local teams has always been a dream for players and when that happens, it brings joy, as one realises they have made a life changing move.
In 2000, Highlanders’ legend Zenzo Moyo moved to Cyprus halfway into the season in which he went on to be crowned Soccer Star of the Year.
The gangling Moyo grew up in Makokoba and established himself as the darling of Bosso fans through his goal scoring prowess that inspired the Bulawayo giants to back-to-back league championships at the turn of the millennium.
The memories he left at Bosso when he left for Cyprus and in 2006 when they last won the league title are still cemented in the hearts of Highlanders’ followers.
The fact that he returned to retire at Highlanders in 2006 after terminating his contract with Greek side Atromitos FC due to injury, immortalised his legendary status at Bosso.
Recalling his journey to Europe, Moyo, who is now the Bulawayo City FC vice-chairman, feels he could have done better had he engaged the services of an established agent.
He appreciates that breaking into the Cyprus league changed his life, but he could have earned more had he been represented by well-established agents.
“I’m happy to have played in Europe, but I feel I wasted some years in Cyprus as it was in Greece where I got a major break. This is not to say I regret the stay in Cyprus, but if I had managed to get a break or get an agent to facilitate a deal in Greece when I was at my peak, it would have been better. I was unfortunate to spend just six months of my one-and-a-half-year stint due to injury in Greece,” said Moyo.
“But now when I look back, I realise that having an agent makes one concentrate on his game while someone works on securing a deal for you. There were times in Cyprus where negotiations will come to a standstill and because I was directly negotiating with the club officials, relations at times strained. I still see it today, there are bogus agents that are selfish and only want what’s best for them, not the player. My advice to players is get a renowned agent who will get you what you’re worth,” he said.
The former Zimbabwe international also revealed that he used an offer from South African Premiership side SuperSport United to bargain for a deal at AEP Paphos of Cyprus.
“When I arrived in Cyprus, they had all the details of how much we earned with Joel Luphahla and wanted to give us what I felt was little. I knew my worth and South Africa’s SuperSport United had tabled an offer which was better than what Paphos initially offered. Had I been of weak character, I could have settled for little, but I knew my worth and negotiated for a better deal. Still, I feel if I had a shrewd agent in my corner, I would have bargained better,” said Moyo.
“Football has changed and clubs engage soccer agents if they are to do meaningful business. If they know the value of their players, it becomes easier for the agent to get them deals. That is why it is important for players to get good agents and that is why in Europe you find both clubs and players stampeding to belong to George Mendes because they know he brokers good deals.
“What I’ve also learnt is that these days, there are some logistics and administrative costs that are solemnly handled by agents when players move. That’s reality we can’t afford to ignore and that is why it’s easier for players from clubs that have a few people making decisions to have players moving. Those that know, know what I’m talking about,” he said.
The former Bosso gunman declined to talk about his past achievements and road to stardom, preferring to talk about what presently affects the game.
He longs for a scenario whereby local footballers plying their trade overseas recommend their fellow Zimbabwean players.
“There’s need to create a culture similar to what West Africans do. When they move abroad, they put word for their fellow countrymen and even introduce those players to their agents because they want to empower others. For former footballers like myself and others, I feel if we can activate our contacts we can help the game.”
He bemoaned divisions rocking former players.
“Divisions started when we were juniors, when some administrators would separate youngsters from senior players. I remember one day when there was a strike at Highlanders, the late Mercedes ‘Rambo’ Sibanda said ‘lingavumi ukusetshenziswa ngabadala. Bathi siyahlupha as senior players, but one day you’ll be senior players and they’ll treat you the same.
“Imagine the influence we can have in local football if Peter Ndlovu, Benjani Mwaruwari and Knowledge Musona work together as one. Let’s not be divided. Once you retire, that’s history. Once you’re at that stage, just know that handout matters are over and done with. Let’s unite and use our strength for the betterment of our society and ourselves. We might have played for different teams, but we mustn’t take pitch wars to the outside world,” Moyo said.
He applauded the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe for mobilising players to donate towards the welfare of Patson Jaure when he was injured in an accident.
“We can’t all be coaches or managers. The late Adam Ndlovu proved himself at Chicken Inn and Joel Luphahla did well at TelOne as a coach. What former players must do is that while waiting to assist their former club, they must practise elsewhere. I’m tired of former players that have turned into armchair critics. We’re quick to blame others, but have we done some self introspection to see if we’re worthy leaders.
“I know this might ruffle feathers, but there are people like Jose Mourinho, who never played on a professional level, but has turned out to be a great manager. There are also administrators that were mere supporters, but are turning out to be doing well. So, before you blame and criticise administrators, ask yourself if you’re worthy to be an administrator?”. — @ZililoR