League final in 2006 and turned himself into a multi-millionaire from huge earnings in a glittering career.
In contrast, Maringwa has limped from one injury crisis to another, after his world was dramatically changed by a serious injury in 2000, and although he recovered to play in the Champions League and lift three domestic league titles, Gazza was never the same and, at the end of last year, he retired from the game.
Yesterday, Toure began the latest chapter of his adventurous and successful football career when he signed his latest deal, at the age of 32 years and five months, by joining English giants Liverpool, on a two-year deal that will give him about £60 000 a week until his 35th birthday.
Maringwa, who was a 20-year-old rising Dynamos star when he ended up on the winning side of a Champions League tie against 18-year-old Toure’s ASEC Mimosas on October 1, 1999, can today only watch from a distance and wonder what would have happened to his career if fate had not intervened in a very cruel way.
Toure, more than any other player, provides Maringwa with that sad feeling of what might have been, if injury had not wrecked his career because they met at a time when they were both young, and playing defensive roles for their local teams, and had a whole world of football opportunities waiting to be explored.
As Toure sealed his latest megabuck deal at Liverpool yesterday, Maringwa revealed to The Herald that he was injured in 2000, just when he was on the verge of landing a move to Spanish side, Celta Vigo, as their replacement for the departing Claude Makelele who was leaving for Real Madrid.
“I had a great opportunity to move to Celta Vigo because they wanted a replacement for Makelele, who was leaving for Real Madrid, and the coach had settled on me and everything was being sorted out in the background and I was really excited about making a break-through,” Maringwa, who turns 35 in two months time, said yesterday.
“Unfortunately, I had that injury and it changed everything and today I can only wonder what might have been if things had not happened the way they happened but we live a life where we don’t have control of everything that happen to us.
“There is, indeed, a sense of regret because I could have done more as a football player, in terms of my career, but then what can I do, things happened and you have to live with that, even though it hurts.
“I’m not the only one, when you look at our team in ’98 and ’99, who could have made it by signing for a European club because the fact that we were good enough to beat ASEC, with players like Zokora (Didier), Dindane (Aruna), and Kolo Toure, who all went to make big names in Europe, means that we had quality players.
“The ASEC players were helped by the links that the club had with European clubs and coaches and it’s unfortunate that we didn’t have such links because if we could beat them, and if you look at our players the average age was about 26, it means we were also good enough to play in Europe.
“But it’s something that we have to change about our football so that what happened to us, the opportunities that were not given to us even though we were good enough, does not happen to the next generation of players who are coming through and they can get their chances to play in Europe and not just end up in South Africa.”
Virtually the entire ASEC team of ’99, which was beaten at the giant stadium by DeMbare, found a way to Europe.
But none of the 12 players who featured for the Glamour Boys that day — Ernest Chirambadare, Ernest Masango, Masimba Dinyero, Desmond Maringwa, Lenny Gwata, Callisto Pasuwa, Makwinji Soma-Phiri (Kingstone Rinemhota), Sandras Kumwenda, Memory Mucherahowa, Ronald Sibanda, Lovemore Ncube – found a way into European football.
Kumwenda (16th min) and Pasuwa (68th min) scored for the Glamour Boys while Dindane replied for ASEC in the 31st min.
Last year, at the age of 34, Maringwa ended his playing career, after being dropped from DeMbare’s Champions League squad for this season, and the irony of it all is that Liverpool are invested a little fortune in paying a player who will be older than the former Dynamos skipper when his contract comes to an end.
“I think, generally, we have this mentality here that when a player is 28, 29 or 30, he is finished and my case was even different because I had broken into the team when I
was around 18 and by the time I was 25, I had been around for about seven years, and some people felt I was now too old when I had not even reached my peak,” said Maringwa.
“I have always said that we need experienced players to help the youngsters who are coming up because if we continue to be hammered, at national level or in the Champions League, while using the youngsters only, it will not help their confidence and we won’t achieve anything as a nation.”
Fitness expert, Gerald Maguranyanga, said Zimbabwean football should first embrace the culture of conditioning and having the right nutritional supplements for its players before we can start dreaming of longevity and having players like Toure who can play, competitively, when they are about 33 years.
“I can tell you that what most of the players, who play in the local Premiership, eat is not recommended for serious athletes like professional footballers and we need a cultural revolution, starting from the very top, the national team, to have fitness trainers and specialists who take care of the nutritional requirements of our players,” said Maguranyanga.
“When you have players who train from 3-5pm waiting to have a meal when they get home around 7 or 8pm, when the experts tell you that they should have supplements within 30 minutes after their training sessions, then you know we are not getting anywhere.
“Sir Alex Ferguson told us that what bowled him out, in his 26 years of service at Manchester United, was how science was changing the game and that should tell us a big story if we want to be really successful.
“Frank Lampard is around 35 and is at the very peak of his athletic powers.”