Senior Sports Reporter
FORMER Warriors skipper Benjani Mwaruwari says he wants to chart a new career path in coaching after completing his UEFA A coaching licence.
The 42-year-old did his course in Belfast, Ireland, recently and is now ready to take on the world of football coaching.
He was in the same class with ex-professional footballers Christopher Samba and Mark Hughes.
Benjani, who has been shuttling in and out of England to visit his family, said he decided to take the opportunity after he was caught in the middle of the Covid-19 travel restrictions in the UK.
The former Jomo Cosmos, Portsmouth, Manchester City and Blackburn forward made the revelations in an interview with SAfm’s, Thabiso Mosia, in a recent radio show.
“I was caught in between and that was a very good thing,” said Benjani.
“I decided to do my coaching badges during that lockdown.
“Fortunate enough, I made it. I have just completed my UEFA A licence.
“I was with Portsmouth on attachment whilst I was doing these badges. Now I need to forward my CV to the clubs and see how it goes.”
The UEFA A Licence is one level below the UEFA Pro Licence and allows holders to be head coaches of youth teams up to age 18, reserve teams for top-flight clubs, and men’s professional second-tier clubs.
This badge enables holders to go for the UEFA Pro Licence, which is the is the highest coaching certification in Europe’s football management.
Benjani, who has been taking a back seat since he retired from professional football in 2014, said he was planning to take up coaching seriously, following in the footsteps of former players like South African legend, Benni McCarthy.
The ex-Bafana Bafana star played in Europe for over a decade before taking up coaching courses.
He had an internship at Sint-Truiden in Belgium and was later appointed assistant coach under Irishman Chris O’’Loughlin. McCarthy is now back in South Africa where he recently had a dream season with Premiership side, AmaZulu.
“If you look at what Benni did, he did his badges and was assistant coach under a coach from Scotland, I think. They were coaching a club in Belgium.
“What I discovered while I was doing my course is that coaching is completely different from playing.
“So I am glad now I know that I need to get some experience before I come back home.
“My wish now is to be involved be it at an academy or as an assistant coach at some club around in Europe.
“Maybe, two years down the line, then I may consider coming back home,” said Benjani.
He said he was still considering to be involved in administration.
He was frustrated in the past after he made known his interests to contest the ZIFA presidency.
“I have loved football since I was young so anything to do with football, I would love to get involved in some way,” said Benjani.
“Right now I am concentrating on coaching and maybe when I am done, maybe I would go back.
“I remember talking to (South African sports journalist) Robert Marawa, doing the sports management courses as well.
“So I will see. Time will tell.”
Benjani had a fine career in France with Auxerre.
He was recommended by Arsene Wenger to Harry Redknapp in his move from Auxerre to Portsmouth on £4m price tag.
The Zimbabwean went goal crazy in 2007/08 and netted 15 goals in 23 games for a lively Pompey side, earning a move to Manchester City.
But the move to City had its downside as he struggled to establish himself.
The Mirror daily newspaper in the UK yesterday rated him among the players dubbed “Top five one-season wonders”.
The other players who shone momentarily in the English Premier League, according to the Mirror article yesterday, include Egyptian Amr Zaki at Wigan, Paraguayan Roque Santa Cruz at Blackburn, Senegalese Papiss Cisse at Newcastle and Spanish Michu at Swansea.
“In the 2007-08 season, Benjani was red hot with 12 goals in 23 appearances and that caught the attention of big-spending Manchester City.
“His deadline-day switch was left in tatters after he missed two planes to Manchester but five days later, the deal was done for £7.5m.
“It was claimed Benjani didn’t even want to leave but couldn’t resist the money on offer — and he truly struggled to capture the form he showed at Fratton Park.
“A Manchester derby goal against Man United at Old Trafford aside, the move was a disaster and after four goals in 23 games, he left on loan for Sunderland.
“He later went on to join Blackburn and even headed back to Portsmouth for one season in 2010-11.
“After returning to Africa for the final days of his playing career, he can now be found coaching Evercreech Rovers in Somerset,” reported the Mirror yesterday.
Through Cosmos owner Jomo Sono’s connections in Europe, he was able to make his breakthrough to Europe when he was snapped up by Grasshoppers in Switzerland.
“I know some people will say that I was lucky but when I went to Switzerland, that was my fourth or fifth trial, if I am not mistaken. I had been to Norway, Turkey, China and eventually I made it in Switzerland,” he said.
“I spent a year in Switzerland. I needed to learn the culture of Europe; how they do things and the weather here is cold.
“I think that year spent in Switzerland helped me a lot and by the time I signed with Auxerre I was familiar with European football.
“The quality of players in France it’s not like here in England whereby you need power and pace. The French players are technical.
“When I went for trials at Auxerre there were many strikers. The coach said ‘look, you did well but we have a lot of strikers so we don’t have space.”
“I was so lucky because my coach, who was leaving my previous club Grasshoppers, was being signed at Lausanne and he wanted to take me there.
“On our way there, Auxerre officials called because some players like Khalilou Fadiga, Djibril Cisse and (Jean-Alain) Boumsong went to the coach and said ‘where is that guy who was here?”
“Then the coach thought ‘maybe I made a mistake not to sign that guy’ and he called me. I had an argument with my manager because these guys were doubting me.
“I wanted to honour the guy who really wanted me. But I am glad my manager managed to convince me and then the following day we managed to fly to France and we signed the deal.”Benjani said being a professional footballer was almost by accident as everything moved too quickly for him.