Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
EDWARD SADOMBA might now be running on a pair of 35-year-old legs, battered by more than a dozen years in the trenches of professional football, but his return to these ailing Glamour Boys provides a brutal reminder of what Dynamos used to be before their spectacular fall from grace.
A sentimental journey back into a time when the nation’s biggest, and most successful football club, used to provide the benchmark for success in the game.
And their remarkable success stories would attract interest from around the world, including the British media.
A reunion with a face from a past when those who used to wear the blue-and-white colours of these Glamour Boys were thoroughbred warriors, including the likes of Justice Majabvi, Thomas Sweswe and David Shoko, and they could compete well against such continental heavyweights like Egyptian powerhouse Al Ahly.
While Murape Murape, another member of that group of players who ended DeMbare’s decade of waiting for the league championship in 2007, has been part of the club’s coaching backroom staff, Sadomba has returned as a player to be part of the battles set to explode this season.
Of course, critics will question the wisdom of investing in someone in the twilight of a career, and some will feast on it as a sign that these Glamour Boys, who have become a pale shadow of themselves in recent years, are on the wrong path in their search for a return to their glory days.
They will say an investment into young players, who could possibly not provide an immediate dividend right now but can then be banked on to develop, over time, into people who can then provide a strong foundation for these Glamour Boys to return to the dominance of the past, would have been a wiser option.
That Sadomba has even been spending some of his time keeping himself fit by playing social football will be used by those who question this move as a wrong option by the DeMbare leadership and a sign that the country’s flagship club has badly lost its way in recent years.
But, the Glamour Boys leadership will probably argue that they are not reinventing the wheel and, after all, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon turned to a 38-year-old Roger Milla for inspiration, at the World Cup of all tournaments, and the ageless forward responded with three goals at Italia ’90.
Four years later, at the ripe age of 42, Milla returned to the World Cup and became the oldest player, in the history of the tournament’s finals, to score at the showcase when he grabbed a goal against Russia at the global football showcase in the United States in 1994.
Whether their gamble, as was the case with Milla, will reap dividends remains to be seen.
But what no one can argue with is that Sadomba provides that face of success at DeMbare which these limping Glamour Boys, who have suffered from an identity crisis in recent years, probably need as a reference point to inspire the current crop of players.
While, in terms of raw talent, there is no one at DeMbare today who could be mentioned in the same bracket as Sadomba, when he was at his peak as a goal-scoring speed merchant, his presence in that Glamour Boys dressing room isn’t only about him being just a reference point in terms of his talent.
He arrives as a symbol of dedication to the Glamour Boys cause, something which is now a rare commodity at the club, given he used to give everything to this institution even when the players, as is usually the case at DeMbare, were going for weeks without being paid.
And, one striking example of his dedication to this club will remain embedded in the minds and hearts of the Dynamos fans for years to come.
On July 18, 2008, his sister Portia died in Harare and plunged the family into mourning, throwing Sadomba’s participation in the CAF Champions League Group match against Ivorian giants ASEC Mimosas at Rufaro, two days later, into doubt.
But the forward left the funeral ceremony, with the body of his sister still lying in state at their family Mbare home, and arrived at Rufaro vowing to try and win the game for his late relative and provide his grieving family with something to cheer their spirits.
As if driven by some supernatural powers, Sadomba led from the front as he scored both goals to give Dynamos a 2-1 victory over the Ivorian giants amid emotional scenes at Rufaro.
“Whether to play was a very difficult decision for me and my family. I opted to start because I know how much this fixture meant to my sister and my country,” said Sadomba after the match as fans mobbed him.
That victory helped DeMbare build a solid foundation on which they launched their impressive campaign, in the group stages that season, which saw them finishing second behind Al Ahly and qualifying for the semi-finals of the tournament.
Charmed by the way the Glamour Boys had defied the odds, as the country battled hyperinflation, The Guardian newspaper of Britain famously proclaimed that should Dynamos win the Champions League that year, they would have written world sport’s biggest success story.
Unfortunately, the DeMbare campaign ended in the semi-finals when they lost to Cotonsport Garoua of Cameroon.
Sadomba had also scored a hattrick for the Glamour Boys in a 3-0 victory over Costa do Sol of Mozambique at Gwanzura in an earlier round of the same tournament.
A year earlier, he had been one of the star players as Dynamos only lost once at home, a surprise 1-3 defeat at the hands of Black Rhinos, on their way to becoming league champions for the first time in 10 years. Having lost three of their first seven league matches, these Glamour Boys didn’t give up hope and by the end of the campaign had been crowned champions.
And, crucially, these Glamour Boys never lost a league match to their biggest rivals Highlanders and CAPS United in 2007 and 2008.
That’s the spirit that Sadomba brings to DeMbare but whether it will work out, as expected, given the serious problems at the club, the lack of talent in their ranks and, of course, his advanced age, remains to be seen