Update: Befitting send-off for Mugabe. The service was attended by former teammates, current coaches and players. Gerorge Mudiwa, Silver Chigwenje, Alois Bunjira, Stewart Murisa, Pardon Chivasa, Dumisani Mpofu and Lloyd Chitembwe, who all played with Mugabe in the championship-winning side of 1996 were in attendance.
CAPS United legend Joe “Kode” Mugabe, who died early last month, received a huge send-off at a service held at Raylton Sports Club ahead of his burial at Glen Forest Cemetery in Harare yesterday.
Mugabe died in the United Kingdom after a long battle with cancer and left behind a wife and two children. Speakers from the football fraternity gave glowing tributes to Mugabe particularly on his leadership qualities and talent.
Caps president Farai Jere, who also spoke on behalf of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and Zifa, praised Mugabe for the way he conducted himself on and off the pitch.
“Joe was a leader par excellence. In the Caps team of 1996, we had a collection of stars. We had the next players, but Joe managed to lead them well. A dressing room with so many stars needed a good leader and Joe did that very well. We used to throng stadiums to watch Joe play and in death we are gathered here because of him. He will always be in our hearts,” Jere said.
He lavished the 1996 side, which Mugabe captained as the best ever Caps side. Jere’s predecessor Twine Phiri said the former midfielder won a lot of respect after remaining loyal to Caps throughout his career.
“I was the last administrator that Joe played under at Caps. When I arrived in 2000, Joe came to me and said he wanted to hang up his boots. I persuaded him to play on for a couple of years. What is special about him is that he never betrayed Caps. There were teams that had more money than Caps where he could have moved to, but he stayed on throughout his career. This is why he is respected so much and it is a lesson to players on loyalty,” the former PSL boss said.
In his eulogy, former Dynamos and Caps United coach Sunday Chidzambga said: “We expected that people like Joe would come in and take over coaching to take the game forward in the country. It is unfortunate that he has departed. We continue losing former players and coaches. At Dynamos, we lost four sons in the last few months. It has been a tough period for everyone.”
Former Caps attacker Charlie Jones presented to the Mugabe family a blazer that Joe wore at a function in 2002 to mark his retirement. The jacket was auctioned and was bought by Jones, who brought it back to present it to Joe’s family yesterday.
“I see a lot of connectivity here. We have a lot of former Caps players here connecting with the club and current players. This is what we need, always have to stay connected,” Jones told the gathering.
Former Soccer Star of the Year George Nechironga chronicled how together with Mugabe they broke into the Caps team, taking over from some of the team’s greats.
“I played with Joe since we were about 14 years old. He was a friend to me; he came and played with us in Glen Norah that is when we joined Caps. I was the first, with Cheche Billiat included, to break into the first team where I displaced Shacky Tauro. Joe then came in and replaced Joel Shambo with Billiat also coming in,” Nechironga said.
Source – Bulawayo24
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