Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
FORMER Zimbabwe captain Moses “Bambo” Chunga’s exploits on the field of play at his former Belgian soccer club Eendracht Aalst continue to get recognition, years after his retirement, when the club recently honoured him for his legendary contribution during his five-year stint there.
In their latest gesture, Eendracht Aalst recently erected a banner at the wall of their stadium as part of their centenary celebrations with Chunga among four players whose picture is illuminated on the billboard.
The wall was inaugurated by Gaston Van Der Elst and Gilles De Bilde just before the kick-off of their match against THES Sport and Chunga was one of the four of the club’s greatest players from different generations to be recognised.
And as part of their centenary celebrations, E Aalst recently wrote on their official club website: “The Wall, which had to dress up the stand and further protect the fans against the wind, is done! Tomorrow at 2:45 pm, just before the kick-off of the top match against THES Sport, none other than Gaston Van Der Elst and Gilles De Bilde will inaugurate the Wall.
“In addition to their image, those of Mammana Neto Salvador and Moses Chunga can also be recognised. Four of our greatest players from different generations. In the design of supporter Tom Ancolet are also the silhouette of the Pierre Cornelisstadion and the slogan ‘Eendracht Aalst: 100 years of passion and tradition’. The logos of the supporters clubs, the SensAlost beer brand of creator Gert-Jan Arijs and that of producer Sterckx Media make it complete.”
E Aalst were founded in 1919 and the Zimbabwe football legend Chunga said it was an honour for the Belgian outfit to continue recognising his efforts during his stint at the club.
“The problem is we look down upon each other here (in Zimbabwe), we don’t appreciate each other, there is too much pull him down syndrome. I mean, it is a great honour to be recognised (by E Aalst) and I am proud that after maybe 30 years, I still represent Zimbabwe as an ambassador that side of which here is the opposite.
“I want to thank the Almighty God for looking after me and the people who helped me to cope (with life) during my stay in Belgium.
“I think this will help us appreciate the former players, to appreciate that this is an industry because we are lagging behind as compared to other countries,” Chunga said.
In December 2012, Chunga returned to his former Belgian club for a homecoming show for the first time in 20 years since he left the team.
Chunga was feted like a king, leaving the legendary footballer in tears.
During that visit, the former Zimbabwe captain put his signature, alongside that of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in the Golden Book of the city of Aalst at a function to honour him and was also given a standing ovation by the club’s fans in his first appearance in their stadium.
The E. Aalst fans unveiled a huge banner inscribed, “Welcome Home Moses”, and the former Zimbabwe international was led onto the centre of the pitch by club officials as cheering fans screamed his name from the stands. During that visit, Chunga was also joined by his former teammates Hansi De Writer, Wim De Wolf, Theo Zakkas and Jules Mandiangu.
And he was so moved by the way the E. Aalst fans reacted to his presence at the stadium, he could not hold back tears.
The Dynamos legend said the latest gesture by the Belgian club will go a long way in inspiring the upcoming players.
But he quickly pointed out that if the local sporting fraternity could also emulate the same and recognise their own, it will be good for sport.
“I think it will inspire a lot of youngsters. If you look at our awards (the Soccer Star of the Year), we have got the legendary George Shaya, who won it a record five times, but even if you look at the previous Soccer Stars functions, not even former winners are invited. And if you go to other countries such awards are presented by former winners or their football greats, but here it’s a different scenario,” said Chunga.
Chunga became Zimbabwe’s first player to be signed by a European club after Independence and remains one of the best players to have emerged from this country. Meanwhile, another Zimbabwe soccer legend Peter Ndlovu’s contribution at English Premiership side Huddersfield Town was also a talking point recently with The Examiner newspaper highlighting the impact he made during his stint with the club.
Ndlovu had joined the club from Birmingham City in 2000 and scored twice on his debut appearance in a 3-0 victory over Wolves on December 9 before he netted again in their 3-1 win against Nottingham Forest at the City ground.
He was on target again when they triumphed 2-1 over Watford before he eventually moved to Sheffield United in February 2001 as Huddersfield had not signed him permanently.
And in their December 13, 2018 edition, the Examiner wrote: “Turn the clock back exactly 18 years and you would find Peter Ndlovu making one of the biggest loan impacts in Huddersfield Town history.
“The Zimbabwean international had been brought in on loan from Birmingham City and his scoring streak helped new boss Lou Macari win the December First Division Manager of the Month Award.
“Ndlovu, who had become a star in a six-year spell with Coventry City, scored twice on his Town debut in a 3-0 victory over Wolves at the stadium on December 9, 2000, with Delroy Facey also on target.
“Four days later, on December 13, Ndlovu netted again to set Marcari’s men en route to a 3-1 win against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground, with Kevin Gallen grabbing the other two goals.
“Jonny Dyson then scored in a 1-1 draw at Portsmouth before Ndlovu was back on target again — with Facey too — in a 2-1 win at Watford.
“Town won again in Ndlovu’s fifth match for the club, 3-0 at home to Tranmere Rovers, when Facey, Dyson and Gallen were on the scoresheet, while the skilful attacker’s last match in Town colours was a 0-0 draw at home to Sheffield Wednesday.
“So Ndlovu had contributed four goals in a six-match unbeaten sequence, but Town didn’t sign him permanently and he eventually moved to Sheffield United, where he netted 25 times in 135 games.
“The 2000-01 season, which had started with Steve Bruce in charge, ended in agony for Town, with relegation on the final day.
“While Town lost 2-1 at home to Birmingham, Crystal Palace scored a controversial last-minute goal at Stockport to save their skins and Portsmouth beat Barnsley 3-0 to also leapfrog Town in the standings.
“After his spell at Bramall Lane, Ndlovu went to play in South Africa with Mamelodi Sundowns, moving on to Thanda Royal Zulu, Highfield United and Black Mambas. Although these local football legends have not received much recognition in their own home country, there are others who continue to remember them for their service and the good that they did during their playing days.