Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
DOES David Mandigora get the credit he richly deserves?
Or, is domestic football cruel on the man called Yogi?
Maybe, if he was someone else, his legendary status would be getting the respect it deserves.
Seven league titles with Dynamos as a player during a 10-year period with the Glamour Boys.
The coach who ended DeMbare’s 10-year wait for the league title when he led the country’s biggest football club to the league championship in 2007.
One of just two coaches, the other being his mentor Sunday Chidzambwa, to guide DeMbare to, at least, the semi-finals of the CAF Champions League.
Surely, what more does one need to do to really get some form of respect from both the fans and the media?
After all, this is the first man to be crowned Soccer Star of the Year, at Independence, in 1980.
This year marks 40 years of that year when he was named the country’s outstanding footballer.
George Shaya was great for the Glamour Boys, a player from another planet and, according to many, the finest Zimbabwean footballer of all-time.
But, at the peak his athletic powers in the ’70s, DeMbare won just three league titles in 1970, 1976 and 1978.
Mandigora will never be Shaya, in terms of his skills, but he was a fine servant for the Glamour Boys and seven league titles, in 10 years, is a huge success story.
And, add to that, a league title as head coach and, of course, taking his team to the CAF Champions League semi-finals in 2008.
Given the challenges the country was facing back then, and that the Glamour Boys, themselves, didn’t even have a penny in the bank, that campaign grabbed worldwide attention.
“Zimbabwe’s Dynamos could be football’s biggest winners this season,’’ wrote Paul Doyle, in the British newspaper, The Guardian.
“If the Glamour Boys . . . win the African Champions League, it will bring them glory and, maybe even a team bus.
“Here’s the story of the greatest football achievement of the season. It’s a story without an end as yet, but if what’s happened so far is anything to go by, it will culminate with Dynamos being crowned the most unlikely continental champions ever.’’
Three years ago, Madigora’s career, as a coach, effectively came to an end.
And, upon reflection, he believes he still had more to offer to football had he not been grounded by health challenges.
His coaching career was cut short, three years ago, following the amputation of his right leg.
But, Mandigora, who now walks with the aid of an artificial limb, is at peace with himself, confined at his Vainona home.
He is always surrounded by a galaxy of medals and trophies he won during his playing days and in his coaching career.
Add to that, he has a loving family that always makes sure he is comfortable.
Visitors at his residence are welcomed by an array of medals and trophies hanging on top of the walls, reminding them of a glittering career the 62-year-old had during his heyday.
He had a 10-year stint with the Glamour Boys, where he won seven league titles between 1977 and 1987.
“At Dynamos, we played to win the league title, nothing else. I also won many other medals, but all that was just icing on the cake,’’ he said.
“The major target was the league title,” he explained.
“So, I am happy I won seven league titles with Dynamos and so many other silverware, some of which I have since forgotten about.
“But, usually, I am reminded by looking at the walls, as you can see everything is there.
“It’s unfortunate some of the pieces are broken and are scattered in the house.’’
Mandigora ranks among the finest midfielders Zimbabwe produced during the early years of Independence.
Having come through the Dynamos juniors structures, after joining them in 1973, Mandigora earned his first senior team cap four years later at the age of 20.
He won his first league title with DeMbare in his second season in 1978 and in 1979 he was crowned the first runner-up in the Soccer Star of the Year awards.
He then won the top gong in 1980, to become the first Dynamos player to win it since Shaya’s record five-time Soccer Star of the Year medal haul.
Mandigora then won four successive league titles between 1980 to 1983 and went on to grab back-to-back medals again in the 1985 and 1986 seasons.
He spoke about the barren 10-year wait for the title which DeMbare had to endure between 1997 and 2007.
“For me, 10 years is a long time. I believe Dynamos is a team that has to win the league title most of the time.
“It’s in the club’s DNA. So, I made sure, when I became coach, that we also had to win it and we managed to do it in 2007.
“We should have won it again the following year, but we finished second. Probably, it was because we fought on two fronts as we also played in the Champions League.
“I am still impressed by that campaign, but I felt things could have been different with a bit of fairness.
“It was tough, but we managed to sail through from the preliminaries to the semis. Some of us had also played Champions League football in the 1980s and the experience we gained that time came in handy.’’
He said Chidzambwa also helped them a lot.
“Sunday Chidzambwa also helped as technical advisor. He was one experienced guy who had been in the trenches for long,’’ he said.
“He also assisted in the scouting of players and we worked together very well.
“I remember very well we didn’t have big names in our team, but we worked very hard as a unit. We were fighters.
“Our supporters were fantastic. They gave players confidence and we had some very good games at home. The players believed in themselves, and it helped us a lot.”
Mandigora’s right leg had to be amputated after suffering a peripheral vascular disease.
He has largely been confined to his Vainona home in Harare.
But, the medals and trophies hanging on the walls at his home are a constant reminder of his successful career.