When Denver Mukamba was crowned Soccer Star of the Year in 2012, many predicted the genesis of greater things to come for a player whose career had blossomed in a very short period of time.
The lanky midfielder would dazzle in front of the Vietnam and send the DeMbare faithful into a frenzy as he took Zimbabwean football by storm and deservedly scooped the accolade.
Even legendary former Warriors captain Peter Ndlovu was once charmed by Mukamba to the extent of suggesting that the talented forward would be better than him and be the greatest player to ever come out of Zimbabwe.
Mukamba looked to have fulfilled Ndlovu’s prediction in 2013 when he captained the Warriors in a World Cup qualifier against Egypt, at just 21 years old, and the star put his name in the history books as one of the youngest players to ever lead the national team.
Denver’s move to Bidvest Wits in South Africa was perhaps the turning point in his career, as the stint was characterised by reports of women and the brown bottle more than the footballing potential which had charmed the world.
Even South Africa football legend Jomo Sono admitted that the South African lifestyle destroyed the promising talent in Mukamba.
“It’s a shame. Denver had everything, but the lifestyle in South Africa is fast. There are many beautiful women, and I also don’t know if it is different from that of Zimbabwe,” Sono said.
“He had everything that guy, but the lifestyle in South Africa killed him,” he added.
Everything Mukamba touched at DeMbare before moving to Wits turned to gold and to say he toiled under the burden of expectation would be a white lie, indiscipline can better explain his downfall.
Put simply, Mukamba’s stint in South Africa, where he played for Wits, University of Pretoria and Jomo Cosmos, was not as rosy as many football followers predicted, but it was Mukamba’s return to DeMbare which proved to be a heartbreak for them.
His bad relationship with the then coach Lloyd Mutasa was well documented, with the player missing training sessions and making headlines for the wrong reasons.
Mutasa finally lost patience with Mukamba and gave the green light for him to move to cross-town rivals CAPS United on a six-month loan deal. The player appeared to have settled well at the Green Machine, but chaos followed up and went AWOL before returning to DeMbare.
Like a father would do for his prodigal son, Mutasa welcomed him back to the club but their relationship would be further strained as the player continued with his antics of missing training and abusing drugs, earning the ‘bad boy’ image in the process.
The Glamour Boys would eventually offload Mukamba in 2018, and very little has been said or written about him ever since.
Nevertheless, a recent video of him playing street soccer with a group of kids sums up his faltering career.
Yes, it’s not wrong for a well-known star to take time and play street football, but his situation simply exposes the whole struggles.
Upon seeing the video, which circulated on various forms of social media today, many could not come to terms with, perhaps, the biggest meltdown in the history of local football.
Denver is indeed the star that fell from the sky into the river.
Check out the heartbreaking video below: