Marries one of world’s richest women …Wife was awarded more than £337m in divorce settlement
Senior Sports Editor
FIFTEEN years later Highlanders are still looking for another coach to lead them to the league championship but, for the last man to guide them to glory, the past few years could not have gone any better.
The country’s oldest football club, which this year is marking the 95th anniversary of their establishment in 1926, marched to their seventh league title in 2006.
It was a fitting birthday present for them, given it also came in the year they were celebrating 80 years in the football trenches.
It also came at a period of Highlanders’ domestic dominance, and that success story was their fifth championship in eight years, in which they also won four titles on the bounce.
But while Bosso have been struggling to find their path back to the Promised Land, for the coach who led them to that triumph, Methembe Ndlovu, life could not be any better.
Last year, Methembe entered his first season as the volunteer assistant coach of the Penn State University men’s football team, having joined the programme in August 2000.
But, that’s not the only reason Methembe must be smiling, and having peace of mind these days, after the challenges he went through, including the collapse of his nine-year marriage to Portia Siphathisiwe Moyo.
The duo, who had tied the knot on September 19, 2006, during the final months of the season when the coach led Bosso to the league championship, divorced in 2015.
Methembe, who applied for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences, was ordered to pay $ 1000 as maintenance for the couple’s children.
Six years later, Methembe has moved on and, he is not only back in the trenches of football coaching in the United States, but he has also found love again after marrying one of the world’s richest women.
His American wife, Jamie Cooper, made headlines around the world in November 2014, when she was awarded more than £337 million in what legal experts said was one of the biggest divorce settlements seen in a British court.
Cooper divorced her wealthy British hedge fund husband, Sir Chris Hohn, and a London High Court Judge settled the divorce with the American getting her substantial pay-off.
Hohn’s claim, arguing Cooper only deserved a quarter of their fortune, was dismissed by the judge during a private hearing in which the size of the couple’s wealth became a source of bitter dispute.
Lawyers representing Cooper claimed Hohn held assets worth US$1,4 billion while his legal team insisted his personal wealth amounted to £64,3 million.
The couple, who had established a fine reputation as members of Britain’s club of generous philanthropists, had four children, including triplets, having met at Harvard University, and married in 1995.
The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the charity which the couple had established, and which was chaired by Cooper, was believed to hold about US$4,3 bilion, at the time of their divorce.
The estranged couple had homes in London, the United States and the Caribbean, at the time of their divorce.
Cooper initiated the divorce proceedings in 2012.
Until this settlement, the largest payout granted by a British court was the £200 million, believed to have been paid to Galina Besharova, the former wife of Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky.
In July last year, Hohn was ordered to pay £270 million to Big Win Philanthropy, the charity set up by Copper, which has footprints in Africa where its mission is to improve the lives of children on the continent.
Methembe is the co-founder of Grassroot Soccer, a youth health, non-governmental organisation, which uses football as a tool for social change.
For Bosso fans, memories of a packed Babourfields as Methembe and his men took them on a merry adventure to the Promised Land, remain embedded in their minds.
Those were the wild days, and nights, when the Bosso roadshow was well and truly underway, and the colourful Liqhwa Gama, was a big part,of both the fun, and their movement.
Methembe had been thrust into the hot seat, which wasn’t a surprise, coming at a time when Charles Mhlauri had made youthful coaches very fashionable, with his success at the Green Machine.
Nicknamed the Mayor, he was only 33, the same age as Peter Ndlovu, who was still playing, and captaining the Warriors, for the last time at a major tournament, at the AFCON finals that year.
A stint in the United States convinced the Bosso leadership their Mayor had picked some priceless lessons, which he could bring on board, to add value to their team.
His image, as an oasis of calm, never one to be wooed by the demons of controversy, had also influenced the club’s bosses he could be trusted to lead their powerful football institution.
And more importantly, he was one of them, knew the terrain very well and had the institutional memory of what it means to be a Bosso leader and, crucially, what this iconic club meant to its people.
Highlanders sprinted from the starting blocks in the championship race, winning their first 10 league games and by the end of the campaign, Bosso were runaway champions.
It was a blowout victory for them, winning the championship 11 points clear of second-placed Motor Action, 16 points clear of third-placed Masvingo United and 19 points clear of sixth-placed Dynamos.
Methembe’s men won the highest number of games (20), with the Mighty Bulls in second place with 15 victories, lost the least number of matches (five), scored more goals (56) and conceded the least number of goals (26).
The early season ‘’Gwekwerere Bhora’’ frenzy, which provided the first half of the campaign with a signature motion picture soundtrack, had long faded from the playlist of the sounds of the season, after Evans Gwekwerere’s departure to South Africa.
Instead, it was Ralph Matema, nicknamed ‘’Banolila,’’ who was the striking fear into the hearts of defenders, on his way to winning the Golden Boot, with 12 goals, which he shared with Master Masitara of Railstars.
He wasn’t the only Bosso hero, during that landmark campaign.
Goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini, Gilbert Banda, Johannes Ngodzo, the late Richard Choruma, Vusa Nyoni, Gift Lunga Jnr, Mkuphali Masuku, Honour Gombami, Chipo Tsodzo, Givemore Manuela, Anzlom Ndlovu and Wellington Sibanda all played their parts.
“It is sad that a big institution like Bosso has gone for such a long time, without winning the league title,’’Mathema told our colleagues at The Sunday Mail.
‘’I guess it could be because of lack of funds to get and retain quality players. I feel sad for Bosso.’’
He isn’t alone, as Highlanders battle to find the path, which led them to the championship, 15 years ago.
But, for the coach who guided them to glory, it appears, a new chapter has been opened and, things couldn’t be any better.